Safety Considerations in the use of Nuclear Gauges

Posted by crowdb02 on December 10th, 2018

Ionizing radiation is something we live with, this is a type of energy released by atom when its structure breaks down. We are exposed to this type of radiation every day of our lives, it can be emitted by soil, rocks, the food we eat and even our body releases radiation. We can not control this natural radiation emission sources and neither they are dangerous for our health due the low level of radiation they release. There are also many others man-made ionizing radiation sources we are exposed to during our daily activities, these are: watching TV, having a X-Ray examination in a doctor or dentist checking, airplane flights, etc. We can control the exposure to these sources of radiation by limiting the related activities.

These are the main types of Ionizing Radiation:

  • Alpha radiation: large atomic particles that some substances emit.
  • Beta radiation: fast-moving particles with very low penetrating power.
  • Gamma radiation: electromagnetic waves which results from radioactive decay.
  • Cosmic radiation: high energy atomic particles from sun and stars.
  • Neutron radiation: penetrating atomic particles, commonly used in portable Nuclear Gauges.
  • X-rays: electromagnetic waves generated by a machine and able to penetrate human body.

All types of ionizing radiation can be dangerous for human being. Exposure to a radiation source can affect our cellular structure and tissues, however, radiation sources can be used safely for many productive purposes, minimizing and controlling risks involved. This is achieved by implementing adequate inspection, maintenance and repair programs for related equipment and instruments.

Nuclear Gauges are widely used in many industries nowdays, they incorporate a radioactive source and thus, important considerations must be taken into acount when it comes to safety in their use.

There are two types of Nuclear Gauges:

  • Fixed Nuclear Gauges:

Most commonly used in process industries or plants as a way to monitor and control process parameters and conditions. They are used when fluids or products can not be measured by using traditional methods or when a particular technical requirement exists.

A detector is mounted opposite to the source and measures the radiation that passes through the fluid or product, then a reading is made for the required information. The flow of a fluid as well as the level of a product can be measured through this technology.

  • Portable Nuclear Gauges:

This type of gauges are used very often in the agriculture and construction industries, they are very practical since they can be moved conveniently from one place to another. Portable Nuclear Gauges measure density and moisture content of soil as well as density of asphalt. They are two methods for measuring with portable gauges, backscatter and direct transmission. Depending on the application one method can be more convenient than the other.

Nuclear Gauges use one or two small radioactive sources which contain americium-241, americium-241/beryllium, cesium-137, krypton-85, radium-226 or cobalt-60. The strength of the sources is related to the amount of radioactive energy they release. Although they are small, they contain a lot of power and radiation.

Nuclear Gauge operators are protected from receiving radiation by a source shielding, by applying proper operation and handling techniques and by the fact that safety evaluation has been performed by an authorized and qualified agency or company.

As it happens with many other tools and equipment, Nuclear Gauges can be hazardous if proper safety precautions are not considered when operating these devices. By following simple rules and procedures, working with your Nuclear Gauge will not be hazardous at all, posing no threat to your health or safety.

Once a Nuclear Gauge is in operation, regular testing must be performed to verify that the radioactive source is secure within its capsule and no leaking exists. This leak test must be performed by an agency of authorized company. Also, Nuclear gauge calibration, maintenance and humboldt repair are crucial and important to guarantee a reliable and safe operation in the use of this equipment.

Phoenix Calibration offers specialized and certified services of calibration, maintenance and repair of your nuclear density gauges of all models, including: Troxler, InstroTek, CPN, and Humboldt.

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