1. Science / Technology

Radiation Detection: A Brief Overview of Tools for Measuring Radiation and Radiation Exposure

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If you are new to radiation sensors or want a quick refresher on radiation detection, this post covers what you need to know. The focus here is on applications of radiation monitors and radiation detectors, not on how they work, though that is also important to understand. If you want to know more about radiation detection tools and radiation, S.E. International has resources covering those topics.

Radiation Detection and Monitoring

Some individuals and companies use the terms interchangeably. They’ll also use the terms “radiation detector” and “radiation monitor” interchangeably. This isn’t ideal because the terms mean different things. Radiation detection is more about checking the strength of radiation or pinpointing a source. Radiation monitoring is about checking the background radiation in an area or the amount of radiation an individual has been exposed to.

Radiation Detectors

If you want to check equipment for radiation leaks or find traces of radioactive materials in soil, rocks, or outside in a natural setting, then you’ll be using one of several radiation detector designs available today. The famous Geiger counter is not the only or even the best detector option today.

Radiation detectors come in digital and analog varieties. The difference between the two lies in how they display or indicate radiation levels. Analog detectors use a continuous signal to indicate through meter readings or sound or both. A digital detector converts radiation into a digital signal that produces a numerical reading.

The main difference between models is the range of radiation they detect. Almost all can pick up beta, gamma, and x-day emissions but they vary in sensitivity. You’ll want to confirm that the detector operating range suits your needs. S.E. International publishes all of the relevant technical information on its product pages.

Radiation Monitors

If you want to track how much radiation employees are exposed to, you’ll be shopping for a wearable radiation dosimeter. These devices indicate how much radiation the wearer is exposed to, usually detecting beta, gamma, and x-ray exposure. These devices come in two varieties – personal and area.

Personal Radiation Monitors

Workers who handle radioactive substances can wear badges or other devices that measure radiation exposure. They are called radiation badges, radiation monitoring badges, or radiation dosimeter badges. Clip-on “pens” and pager-like personal radiation detectors have partly supplanted the old photographic film badges that indicate exposure with color changes.  These film badge dosimeters are still available and still used in some settings, like medical offices. Some models can pick up neutron emissions but most cannot.

Thermoluminescent dosimeters (TDLs), aluminum oxide dosimeters, and electronic devices have replaced the early film badge designs in many applications.

TDL – These devices use a crystal that emits light in response to radiation combined with a device that measures the light to deliver a reading.

Aluminum-Oxide Dosimeters – Also called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dosimeters, these monitors use aluminum-oxide crystals to absorb x-ray radiation and release it, where the device can detect the radiation level.

Electronic Personal Dosimeters – These devices measure and report on ionizing radiation exposure. Companies make a wide variety of designs in different forms.

Area Radiation Monitors

Some devices measure the ambient radiation in an area, usually a lab or specialized manufacturing facility. Some area monitors can detect airborne contamination by radioactive particles. They usually sound a local alarm in response to a sudden increase in radiation. You can also buy area monitors that connect to a distributed safety and monitoring system. Additionally, some area monitors can lock a room where the radiation level surged, to protect workers from excessive and inadvertent exposure.

Radiation Detection Tools, Software, and Information

S.E. International offers a wide range of radiation detectors and radiation monitors. You can learn more about radiation and radiation detection using the sites we recommend, or peruse one of our buying guides for customers who need some help choosing the right product for their situation. Visit our site today and get in touch if you have questions. 



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