[ RadSafe ] RadSafe Digest, Vol 1444, Issue 1

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Mon Nov 18 11:43:13 CST 2013

How is this:

Radioactive material is radioactive because atoms change, or "decay",
from one element into another.  The unit for measuring this decay in the
International System of Units (SI, or what most Americans think of as
"metric") is the Becquerel (Bq).  One Becquerel is equal to one decay
per second.  Because we are often interested in amounts of radioactivity
much larger than that, we use the standard set of prefixes (mega-,
giga-, etc.) when talking about activity.  

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when talking about
activity, in Bq or other units, because they work differently than, say,
miles per hour or pounds per square inch.  One is that the instruments
used to measure activity usually can measure only certain types, and
only certain energies of radiation.  Even for the type and energy it can
measure it only measures the radiation that hits the detector (and not
the radiation that goes in other directions), and only a portion of
that.  It is important to know what material is being measured, and how
it is being measured.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that when an atom decays and changes
into a different element, it is no longer an atom of the original
element.  It may not be radioactive anymore, or it may be radioactive in
a different way.  If the half-life of the original radioactive material
is long decay might not affect the number of Bq in the amount of time we
care about, but if the half-life is short the number of Bq could change
so fast that you need to keep calculating new numbers.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Rick Maltese
Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2013 11:02 PM
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] RadSafe Digest, Vol 1444, Issue 1

Can anyone help me put together a paragraph that explains Becquerels to
the layman. I am creating a document to help explain radiation.
Especially in relation to scary media about Fukushima. You can take a
look at what I've got so far.


If there is also a graphic I would be very grateful. 

Rick Maltese

webcompose.ca  webdesign services

leadsheetz.com  music services - transposing, composing, teaching etc

rickmaltesemusic.com  piano gig page
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