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Bronisław Machaj, Jakub Bartak

Radon daughters concentration in air is a direct daughter inside the Lucas cell. The Lucas cell for
indicator of the radiological hazard to human be- radon daughter measurement was modified as
ings due to radon existence in the air. The knowl- shown in Fig.1. Small active part φ54x10 mm for
edge on radon daughters concentration in the air radon progeny measurement is limited by plate,
is thus of vital importance. Radon as a natural ra-
dioactive marker existing in the air is used in in-
vestigations of movement and mixing of atmo-
spheric air. Radon concentration in atmospheric
air is much lower (5-15 Bq/m3) than in dwellings
and much higher sensitivity of measurement can
be achieved by measuring radon daughters than
radon itself. Standard procedure in measuring ra-
don daughters is the deposition of radon progeny
attached to dust aerosols on an air filter and then
measurement of alpha radiation of deposited de-
cay products.
A new approach was made to measure radon
decay products with a Lucas cell [1]. Lucas cell is a
sensitive detector of alpha radiation. It is known

Fig.2. Count rate, measured (broken line) and simulated

(continuous line) on the same time scale. Count num-
bers at time intervals t1=1-12 min, t2=13-28 min and
t3=29-40 min from broken curve processed gave the
activities 218Po=5.027, 214Pb=0.5263 and 218Bi=4.8845
dpm. Continuous curve corresponds to the above

window, and wall. The cell was installed in a ra-

don monitor equipped with a photomultiplier tube
with a photocathode connected to high voltage of
negative polarity (-820 V, anode grounded). The
radon monitor was then placed in a radon cham-

Fig.1. Lucas cell for measurement of radon progeny: 1 –

air inlet and outlet, 2 – pipe, 3 – plate covered with
ZnS(Ag), 4 – cell transparent windows, 5 – wall
covered with ZnS(Ag), 6 – flange.

that radon daughters easily attach to the walls of a

measuring cell. Radon progeny are positively
charged thus connecting a photocathode of the
photomultiplier tube to negative voltage and Fig.3. Count rate of Lucas cell shown in Fig.1 at an airflow
grounding the anode, helps to deposit radon of 1.1 dm3/min.

ber and after radiation equilibrium was reached, Figure 3 shows the count rate at 10 min inter-
the airflow 1.1 dm 3/min was forced (sucked) vals from total radon progeny measured in a lab-
through the Lucas cell and count rates were mea- oratory room at ground level within 65 h during
sured. The results of measurement and simulation weekend days. The count rate up to 130 counts/10
are shown in Fig.2. The simulation was done em- min was registered indicating a good sensitivity of
ploying radioactive series decay equations [2] and the detector.
three interval count processing. The activities of
radon progeny deposited inside the Lucas cell References
achieved from three interval data processing are: [1]. Lucas H.F.: Rev. Sci. Instrum., 28, 680-682 (1957).
Po=5.027, 214Pb=0.5263 and 214Bi=4.8845 dpm [2]. Evans R.D.: Radioactive – series decay. Chapter 15.
(dis per min) or 76.2, 7.9 and 74 Bq/m3 for 218Po, In: The atomic nucleus. McGraw-Hill Company, 1970,
Pb and 214Bi, correspondingly. Estimated radon pp.470-510.
progeny in the air was 1540 Bq/m3, thus the effi-
ciency of deposition and detection of 218Po was
estimated to be η=76.2/1540=0.05.


Jakub Bartak, Bronisław Machaj, Piotr Urbański, Jan P. Pieńkos

Wood density is an important parameter determin- a scintillation detector with NaI(Tl) (φ25x12 mm)
ing several properties of wood as: wood quality, are collimated with a 40 mm thick Pb collimator.
mechanical resistance, charcoal production, trans- Diameter of the collimator can be set at 5, 10 and
port cost, etc. [1]. General relations and definitions 15 mm. The measuring head containing radiation
of density, specific gravity, moisture influence on source and scintillation probe fixed in a C form
wood density, density variation and chemical com- frame can be moved across the measured board
position of wood are given in [2]. A short review up to 250 mm wide. The measuring head and mea-
of different methods for the measurement of wood sured wood are supported by a folding measuring
density is given in [1]. Radiometric methods are table. Pulses from the scintillation probe after am-
based on attenuation of 241Am gamma radiation, plification and discrimination in E1 discriminator
or measurement of backscattered 241Am radiation are counted in a pulse counter PL1 and are pro-
[3,4]. Attenuation of gamma radiation is preferred cessed to get the density of wood and error of
as the attenuation is proportional to the density measurement. Up to 1000 measuring results are
across the total wood thickness, whereas in back- stored in the gauge memory. The measuring re-
scattered geometry the surface layer has higher sults stored in the memory are sent to an external
influence on density signal. Block diagram of the laptop for computations of density contours.
gauge in transmission geometry illustrating its prin- To control the gain of photomultiplier tube
ciple of operation is shown in Fig. (PMT), count rate n1 and n2 is measured at E1
The gauge is designed for non routine measure- and E2 discrimination level and the ratio n2/n1 is
ments of board and plank wood in the field envi- checked. If the ratio is lower or higher than the
ronment. Radiation source 241Am (370 MBq) and value corresponding to the nominal gain, the gain
of PMT is corrected by a decrease or increase in
the PMT high voltage. The gain is automatically
controlled by a microprocessor and a digit-to-ana-
log converter.
Wood density (ρ) and relative random error (s(ρ)/ρ)
due to fluctuations of count rate are computed
from the relations:
ln(n o / n)
s(ρ) [1/ n o + 1/ n]/ t
Fig. Block diagram of wood density gauge. At the top, dis- =
crimination levels E1 and E2 against 241Am differen- ρ µdρ
tial spectrum are shown: Z – radiation source 241Am, where: no – count rate when no wood is placed
DR – wood sample, SS – scintillation probe, A – pulse between the source and detector; n – count rate
amplifier, E1 – discrimination level of measuring when wood is between the source and detector
channel, E2 – discrimination level of automatic gain
(The no and n are corrected for detector back-
control, PL1 – measuring channel pulse counter, PL2
– automatic gain control pulse counter, uP – micro- ground and dead time of measuring channel.); µ –
processor, PCA – digit-to-analog converter, ZWN – wet wood attenuation coefficient, µ=µd+w(µw-µd);
high voltage power supply, ZNN – low voltage power µd – dry wood attenuation coefficient; µw – water
supply, RS – serial port RS232, USB – RS232 to USB attenuation coefficient; d – thickness of wood; t –
converter, AK – battery, PAK – battery charger. counting time.