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What Materials Protect Against Nuclear Radiation

What Are The Various Materials That Shield From Radiation

27. Nuclear Materials Radiation Damage and Effects in Matter
  • Date: May 6, 2021

Radioactive materials are relied on in various industries, including the medical, engineering, and energy fields. They are powerful and helpful in diagnosing or treating people or as a power source for high-energy resources. For that reason, the methods for shielding people from radiation must come in a variety of forms. Because radioactive materials are so powerful, they must be properly contained to avoid harming the environment and people handling them. Considering the power of the gamma rays, X-rays, and beta particles, quality nuclear shielding is essential.

So, what materials could be best for nuclear shielding? You will need to use materials thick enough to protect people from the rays. Lead is a common material thats been used for radiation shielding because it is wide. However, the materials needed for dental X-Rays may not be as heavy-duty as what nuclear engineers require. The options for radiation shielding are pretty vast.

Should We Be Afraid Of Dirty Bombs

Yes. If a terrorist uses a dirty bomb, the resulting explosion will most likely kill or injure people and damage property. We should not be afraid of the radioactivity that might be spread as a result of the explosion. Any deaths caused by the bomb will be a direct result of the explosion and will not be caused by the radioactive material involved.

The Problem With Cbrn Radiation Shielding Solutions

There are numerous approaches to gamma radiation protection, most of them based on spreading as thick a layer as possible of materials like composite metals, lead, or specialty fabrics over the body. To reduce typical gamma rays by a factor of a billion, according to the American Nuclear Society, thicknesses of shield need to be about 13.8 feet of water, about 6.6 feet of concrete, or about 1.3 feet of lead. Thick, dense shielding is necessary to protect against gamma rays.

To protect the body against gamma rays, many of the CBRN radiation shield solutions on the market pack on the protection to the extent that even moving in the outfits is difficult, if not impossible. At Chernobyl, for example, some of the responders tried to protect their entire bodies with thin sheets of lead similar to what is worn in hospitals to protect against low-energy x-rays . But even with 26 kilos of this material on their bodies heavily encumbering them their most sensitive and vulnerable body parts remained inadequately protected, and many of them died from the hematopoietic sub-syndrome of acute radiation syndrome which arises from the destruction of the bone marrow tissue.

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Protection Against Exposure Due To Radon Indoors And Gamma Radiation From Construction Materials Methods Of Prevention And Mitigation

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Cite this content as:

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Protection Against Exposure Due to Radon Indoors and Gamma Radiation from Construction Materials Methods of Prevention and Mitigation, IAEA-TECDOC-1951, IAEA, Vienna

Factors In External Dose Uptake

11 best Radiation Protection Emergency Kits images on Pinterest ...

There are three factors that control the amount, or dose, of radiation received from a source. Radiation exposure can be managed by a combination of these factors:

  • Time: Reducing the time of an exposure reduces the effective dose proportionally. An example of reducing radiation doses by reducing the time of exposures might be improving operator training to reduce the time they take to handle a radioactive source.
  • Distance: Increasing distance reduces dose due to the inverse square law. Distance can be as simple as handling a source with forceps rather than fingers. For example, if a problem arise during fluoroscopic procedure step away from the patient if feasible.
  • Shielding: Sources of radiation can be shielded with solid or liquid material, which absorbs the energy of the radiation. The term ‘biological shield’ is used for absorbing material placed around a nuclear reactor, or other source of radiation, to reduce the radiation to a level safe for humans. The shielding materials are concrete and lead shield which is 0.25mm thick for secondary radiation and 0.5mm thick for primary radiation
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    Protecting Yourself From Radiation

    Radiation is part of our life. Background radiationBackground radiationRadiation that is always in the environment. The majority of background radiation occurs naturally and a small fraction comes from man-made elements., coming primarily from natural minerals, is around us all the time. Fortunately, there are very few situations where an average person is exposed to uncontrolled sources of radiation above background. Nevertheless, it is wise to be prepared and know what to do if such a situation arises.

    One of the best ways to be prepared is to understand the radiation protection principles of time, distance and shielding. During a radiological emergency , we can use these principles to help protect ourselves and our families.

    On this page:

    How To Block Neutron Radiation

    Neutrons are unique particles they have no charge and can easily pass through dense material like lead more quickly than other particles. To protect against neutron radiation, its advisable to obtain a substance with a low atomic number.

    The best component to consider is hydrogen because its the lightest element on the periodic table. When neutron radiation interacts with this low-density barrier, neutron particles cannot pass through.

    Since blocking the neutron can cause low-density material to release gamma rays, its best to use a protective barrier with both low and high-density materials.

    Low-density material can cause gamma-rays to scatter, and high-density material can prevent the gamma-ray from even being released. This potent combination can help provide an unbreakable shield against neutron radiation.

    Materials that block neutron radiation:

    • Hydrogen and hydrogen-based materials

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    Gamma Radiation Shielding For Various Materials

    How do we apply all this in order to get an approximate idea about gamma radiation shielding for various materials?

    A halving thickness is the amount of material that will block half the gamma radiation passing through it. A halving thickness has a protection factor of 2.

    If you add another halving thickness, the material will block half of the remaining gamma rays, leaving 1/4. This is a protection factor of 4. Another layer of halving thickness brings it down to 1/8, or PF 8. And so on.

    A radiation shield is characterized by its total protection factor. For example, a shield that only lets 1/1,000 of the gamma rays through, has a protection factor of PF1000 .

    1 layer = PF 29 layers = PF 51210 layers = PF 1024

    Radiation shielding materials are commonly categorized by their halving thickness, which is the thickness of that material required to block half of the incoming gamma rays.

    If we know the halving thickness, then multiply it by 10 for PF of about 1000 .

    Elimination And Substitution Of Lead

    Protecting yourself from radioactive fallout from a nuclear bomb…How to stay at home and survive.

    Lead is a hazardous substance, making it a disposal and industrial hygiene problem. For many years, lead has been widely employed for shielding personnel from radioactive sources. Recently, there has been a growing concern that the use of lead poses a safety and long-term health hazard to counting facility personnel .

    Previous research done at the Los Alamos National Laboratory has explored the costs and benefits of replacing lead with bismuth for routine shielding of personnel

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    Can I Take A Pill To Protect Myself From Radiation

    Not really. Potassium iodide is a pill that is commercially available and is being marketed as an “antidote” to radiation. This is not true. There is no single drug that will protect a person from radiation exposure. Potassium iodide is effective in providing protection for one specific type of radioactive material that is swallowed or inhaled. Potassium iodide specifically protects the thyroid against inhalation or ingestion of radioiodines if taken just before or within four hours after exposure. It doesn’t protect other organs or the whole body from the effects of exposure to radioiodines or to any other radionuclides. Because of their relatively short half lives, radioiodines are not likely to be used in a dirty bomb. The effectiveness of the drug is further reduced if you take it after your exposure to the radioactivity.

    Advanced Materials For Cbrn Radiation Shielding Not A Solution Either

    Even when materials that are touted as being more effective than lead are used, lugging around heavy whole-body protective suits considerably slow down the wearer and creates unnecessary heat-stress. The average male human body has a surface area of 19000 cm2 and the torso is approximately 36% of that surface area, which means a vest made out of material that has a density of 3.14 g/cm3 with an attenuation factor of 2 would weigh 58 kg. This is an unrealistic weight for someone to carry and as the products on the market that use these materials are considerably lighter , they provide much less protection than would be required.

    Even if you were to provide someone with a 58 kg vest providing 2 fold protection and they were able to wear it, the dose received is proportional to the time of exposure and by virtue of carrying an additional 58 kg one would be slowed considerably, thereby negating the benefits of their shielding or even being counter-productive and worsening their absorbed dose.

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    Why Does Spreading The Material Reduce Its Effectiveness

    It is like breaking up a rock. If someone was to throw a large rock at you it would probably hurt and it may cause you physical damage. If they take the same rock and break it up into grains of sand and then they throw the sand at you, the chances of it causing you any real damage are significantly lower. This same principal would apply to radioactive material dispersed in an explosion. This dispersion will lower radiation levels to a level like what you encounter in routine x-rays at your dentist’s office.

    How Can You Protect Your Home From Nuclear Radiation

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    How Does Radiation Shielding Work

    The goal is to reduce the number of harmful particles that can interact with and destroy your healthy DNA cells. Doing so will help ensure you have a long, happy life full of new opportunities. This process, called attenuation, involves making sure these harmful substances or particles lose intensity as they flow through barriers in our bodies. An example of attenuation is using sunglasses on sunny days to prevent destructive light beams from hindering eyesight.

    Recommended Limits On Dose Uptake

    The ICRP recommends a number of limits for dose uptake in table 8 of ICRP report 103. These limits are “situational”, for planned, emergency and existing situations. Within these situations, limits are given for certain exposed groups

    • Planned exposure â limits given for occupational, medical and public exposure. The occupational exposure limit of effective dose is 20 mSv per year, averaged over defined periods of 5 years, with no single year exceeding 50 mSv. The public exposure limit is 1 mSv in a year.
    • Emergency exposure â limits given for occupational and public exposure
    • Existing exposure â reference levels for all persons exposed

    The public information dose chart of the USA Department of Energy, shown here on the right, applies to USA regulation, which is based on ICRP recommendations. Note that examples in lines 1 to 4 have a scale of dose rate , whilst 5 and 6 have a scale of total accumulated dose.

    ALARP is an acronym for an important principle in exposure to radiation and other occupational health risks and in the UK stands for “As Low As Reasonably Practicable“. The aim is to minimize the risk of radioactive exposure or other hazard while keeping in mind that some exposure may be acceptable in order to further the task at hand. The equivalent term ALARA, “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”, is more commonly used outside the UK.

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    Emergency Shelters After A Nuclear Blast

    You may not get an early warning about an imminent nuclear blast because of many factors involved in it. Therefore, you may not have the time to build a nuclear shelter. So you may have to resort to makeshift arrangements to survive for some initial time. In that case, ground that provides natural shielding and easy shelter construction is the ideal place for an emergency shelter. Basements and central floors of high rise buildings also provide very good protection against fallout radiation. However, high rise buildings will be very dangerous if they are in the epicenter. Other good examples are ditches, ravines, rocky outcropping, hills, and river banks etc.

    Snippet from FEMA handbook of radiation safety

    How To Protect Yourself From Nuclear Radiation And Nuclear Fallout

    HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RADIATION – In a (Nuclear) Nutshell – Ep. 4

    Radiation is an everyday part of life. Whether youre going in for a chest x-ray at the doctor, taking a flight to another city, or simply absorbing background radiation from natural minerals, the human body can withstand radiation in small amounts.

    The problem arises when uncontrolled amounts of radiation are released into the atmosphere. Even if the chances of a nuclear attack are unlikely, being afraid of a nuclear disaster is not an irrational fear.

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    Clean Yourself And Seal Your Clothing

    Until you are able to get to a shower or new clothes, wipe off your clothing every few minutes. Once you have gained access to a shower, take off all of your clothing, including your shoes, and insert them into a sealed bag. Visit for radiation protection equipment.

    Take a shower with mild water, soap, and shampoo no conditioner. Hair conditioners can actually seal radioactive particles to your hair.

    Occupational Safety And Health Administration

    Control & Prevention

    This section provides information on controlling ionizing radiation hazards and preventing dose.

    This section does not address the range of non-radiological safety and health hazards for workers in occupational settings with ionizing radiation hazards. For example, these non-radiological safety and health hazards may include electrical hazards from associated electrical equipment and extension cords, shift work and long work hours, worker ingress into and egress from shielded enclosures , and laser hazards if lasers are incorporated into radiation-emitting equipment .

    Radiation Protection Program

    Developing and implementing a radiation protection program is a best practice for protecting workers from ionizing radiation. A radiation protection program is usually managed by a qualified expert , who is often called a radiation safety officer .

    Another best practice is designating a radiation safety committee, which includes the RSO, a management representative, and workers who work with radiation-producing equipment, radiation sources, or radioactive materials .

    A radiation protection program should include, at a minimum:

    Equipment Registration/Licensing

    Federal and state regulatory agencies require some types of radiation-producing equipment or radiation sources to be registered or licensed by manufacturers and/or users.


    Time, Distance, and Shielding

    When it comes to ionizing radiation, remember time, distance, and shielding:

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    Nuclear Attacks Vs Natural Disasters

    Nuclear weapons are only one of the many ways in which nuclear radiation can occur. Nuclear radiation safety hazards can also be brought on by man-made or natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes where nuclear power plants exist.

    Despite advanced safety systems, no nuclear power plant is 100% safe from every possible disaster scenario. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, 30 countries around the world have 439 nuclear reactors.

    How To Protect Yourself From Nuclear Radiation

    Dirty Bomb Emergency Kit for radiation protection

    Duck and cover? More like: Go inside and stay inside.

    ByChris Roberts | Published Sep 3, 2019 9:14 PM

    On Aug. 8, residents of Severodvinsk, Russia, witnessed a tremendous explosion. Experts across the world are still trying to piece together exactly what happenedand Russian media outlets are demanding answers from the Kremlinbut it seems clear the explosion came from somewhere close to the Russian Navys nearby missile-testing range.

    The current theory is that the blast, which killed five scientists and blanketed the immediate region with a still-unknown amount of radiation, most likely involved a missile equipped with a miniature nuclear reactor.

    Though the incident doesnt seem to have involved a live nuclear warhead, submarines armed with such weapons are a key component of Russias nuclear deterrence strategysame as in the United States. And following the collapse earlier this year of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty that limited weapons-testing, the world may see more and more nuclear weapons tests. With them comes the increased likelihood of accidents and exposure to radiation.

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