0
$\begingroup$

There are plenty of lists of sources of general background radiation, but can anyone reduce that list to the major contributing sources purely for background gamma radiation (specifically low energy, x-ray-ish level)? I'm more interested in measurements in Curies, rather than Sieverts if possible.

Thank you

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ Gamma rays are, practically by definition, extremely high energy, high frequency electromagnetic waves. Therefore, to ask about "low energy, x-ray-ish" gamma rays is like asking for square circles. $\endgroup$
    – Sean
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 0:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If he's simply making the distinction between photons (represented with a $\gamma$ at all energies in particle-physics) and massive particle radiation, the meaning is clear. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 0:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ On the other hand, buzsh does have a problem with his units request. Curies is not a dose. It's just a count of events per unit time (and the SI unit of activity is the Becquerel with $1 \,\mathrm{Ci} \approx 3.7 \times 10^{10} \,\mathrm{Bq}$). Sieverts is a measure of biological damage from radiation. They are not at all the same thing. There is no general conversion for $\mathrm{Ci}$ to $\mathrm{Sv}$, and to define one for a particular case requires you to specify radiation type, radiation energy and absorption profile. None of which we have. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Sean: There is no clear cut-off between X-ray and $\gamma$ ray in the EM spectrum, just "somewhere" in the upper MeV range. So saying "low energy, x-ray-ish$ isn't really much of a problem (though it'd be more clear with a statement like with $E\in[10,400]\,\rm MeV$) $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, for some reason I was thinking radio wave instead of x ray when I read the question. $\endgroup$
    – Sean
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 1:15

1 Answer 1

1
$\begingroup$

It is, perhaps easier to catalog the non-photon sources and leave the addition and unit conversion to you.

  • The cosmic background is almost entirely muons.

  • If you spend times in building with non-trivial radon level, that does it largely alpha.

  • Most (but not all) of the natural radiation background is gamma, but it runs a wide range of energies for a few $\mathrm{keV}$ up to more than $1 \,\mathrm{MeV}$.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.