Researchers in the UK have developed a new method for evaluating plutonium workers’ historical internal radiation exposure. They focused their study on workers employed at the start of plutonium operations at the Sellafield (formerly Windscale) nuclear reprocessing facility. Internal exposure to plutonium, which decays via alpha particle emission, is a recognised health hazard. But with little specific information available, potential risks from plutonium exposure have largely been assessed through knowledge of radiation exposure risks in general, much of which comes from external exposure to photon radiation such as gamma and X-rays. However, due to its high linear energy transfer rate, alpha particle radiation exhibits significantly enhanced biological effects at the cellular level, creating a specific need to investigate the associated exposure risks.
Physics World 22nd May 2019 read more »