Practical radiation measurement using calibrated radiation protection instruments is essential in evaluating the effectiveness of protection measures,and in assessing the radiation dose likely to be received by individuals.The measuring instruments for radiation protection are both "installed" (in a fixed position) and portable (hand-held or transportable).
Installed instruments are fixed in positions which are known to be important in assessing the general radiation hazard in an area.Examples are installed "area" radiation monitors,Gamma interlock monitors,personnel exit monitors,and airborne particulate monitors.
The area radiation monitor will measure the ambient radiation,usually X-Ray,Gamma or neutrons; these are radiations which can have significant radiation levels over a range in excess of tens of metres from their source,and thereby cover a wide area.
Gamma radiation "interlock monitors" are used in applications to prevent inadvertent exposure of workers to an excess dose by preventing personnel access to an area when a high radiation level is present.These interlock the process access directly.
Airborne contamination monitors measure the concentration of radioactive particles in the ambient air to guard against radioactive particles being ingested,or deposited in the lungs of personnel.These instruments will normally give a local alarm,but are often connected to an integrated safety system so that areas of plant can be evacuated and personnel are prevented from entering an air of high airborne contamination.
Personnel exit monitors (PEM) are used to monitor workers who are exiting a "contamination controlled" or potentially contaminated area.These can be in the form of hand monitors,clothing frisk probes,or whole body monitors.These monitor the surface of the workers body and clothing to check if any radioactive contamination has been deposited.These generally measure alpha or beta or gamma,or combinations of these.
The UK National Physical Laboratory publishes a good practice guide through its Ionising Radiation Metrology Forum concerning the provision of such equipment and the methodology of calculating the alarm levels to be used.
Portable instruments are hand-held or transportable.The hand-held instrument is generally used as a survey meter to check an object or person in detail,or assess an area where no installed instrumentation exists.They can also be used for personnel exit monitoring or personnel contamination checks in the field.These generally measure alpha,beta or gamma,or combinations of these.
Transportable instruments are generally instruments that would have been permanently installed,but are temporarily placed in an area to provide continuous monitoring where it is likely there will be a hazard.Such instruments are often installed on trolleys to allow easy deployment,and are associated with temporary operational situations.
In the United Kingdom the HSE has issued a user guidance note on selecting the correct radiation measurement instrument for the application concerned.This covers all radiation instrument technologies,and is a useful comparative guide.