Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 10

# Tutorial 6.1 Determination of Measurement Uncertainty for Radiochemical Analysis Slide 1.

. Determination of Measurement Uncertainty for Radiochemical Analysis In this module we will examine how the uncertainty in radiochemical measurements is calculated. Slide 2. Learning Objectives This module will cover the basics of determining uncertainty of radiochemical measurements. You will be able to: Define the terms accuracy, precision, standard uncertainty, and coverage factor as they apply to statistics. Identify measurement parameters that will follow the normal distribution. Calculate the counting uncertainty given the number of counts or the count rate and count time. Identify the various measurements that are made in radiochemical analyses that factor into the final combined uncertainty. Calculate a critical level, MDC, and SDWA detection limit based on counting parameters and sample specific parameters.

The key concepts that will be emphasized in this module are: Every measurement has an uncertainty associated with it that can either be calculated or estimated. The uncertainty due to radioactive measurements can be calculated knowing the number of counts and the count interval. The sample critical level is the determining factor for whether a sample has detectable activity. The determination of detectability is based in part on the tolerable error rate that is selected.

Slide 3. Measurement Results as Random Variables Whenever any kind of measurement is made, there is uncertainty of the measurement with respect to what is the true value. Suppose that a measurement is repeated By the same person, A different person, Using a different instrument, or Using a different part of the same sample.

For each of these four different instances you would likely get a slightly different result. That is because any time a measurement is repeated, even by the same person using the same instrument on the same material; the distribution of the final measured values will vary in a manner that can be described probabilistically. For example, draw a line, and then use a ruler to measure its length. Then give the ruler and the paper with the line to another person to make the same 1

measurement. The estimate they make of the line length using that ruler will vary slightly from the original measurement you made. The things that affect the difference in measurement are interpolation of the markings on the ruler, visual acuity of the observer, variation in the temperature of the room, etc. All measurements suffer from these types of variables and others as well. These cause our measured values to differ slightly each time we make them. There are several terms used to describe the probabilistic distribution of results. These are the mean, the variance, standard deviation, and others. The key concept to remember is that no matter what the measurement is, there is an uncertainty associated with it that can either be calculated or estimated. Slide 4. Gaussian Probability Distribution The figure on this slide is for a Gaussian distribution of results. Sometimes this is also referred to as the Normal distribution since the probabilities of measurements that represent the true value are distributed equally on both sides of the true value. The x-axis represents the range of possible measured values and the y-axis represents the number of times a measured value will be observed. There are some important features to note about this type of distribution. First, the mean value is exactly in the middle of the distribution. In a true Gaussian distribution the mean and the median, the middle value, will be the same. They will also both have the highest probability of all possible values. In statistical parlance the result that occurs most frequently is called the mode. Second, the equation for this distribution has an exponential function which causes the probability of a result occurring to decrease significantly as one gets farther away from the mean value in both directions. However, the curve never goes to zero. Third, we can divide the curve up into segments that represent certain fractions of the total area under the curve. The parameter sigma, called the standard deviation is the measure of the width of the curve. It can be used to identify different portions of the total area under the entire curve. As shown on the figure if we take the area under the curve that is encompassed by the mean value plus and minus 1.96 sigma 95% of all results will normally fall into this range. So if the mean were 10.0 pCi and sigma was 1.0 pCi, then the range of values that would correspond to 95% of the possible measurements would be from 10-1.96 to 10 + 1.96, or 8.04 to 11.96 pCi. Slide 5. Examples of Probability Distributions The figure on this slide shows another type of probability distribution. This one is described by a linear relationship on each side of the mean value. This type of distribution is what might be assumed for use of a volumetric pipet.

Slide 6. Statistical Terms The terms and their definitions shown on this slide are commonly used in discussions of uncertainty of measurements. One of the important concepts to remember is that when we perform an analysis our measurement is a representation of all the possible measurements that could be made. That is our single measurement ends up representing the entire population. Even if we perform replicate analysis on a sample, it is still only a sample of the entire population. Slide 7. Mean and Standard Deviation The mean of a series of measurements is simply the sum of all the individual values divided by the total number of measurements made. Traditionally this parameter has been represented by an x with a bar above it, or x-bar. It more statistical parlance it is referred to as q-bar. The equation to determine the experimental standard deviation is shown on the slide. The term variance is the square of the standard deviation. Variances of different measurements are able to be added directly whereas the standard deviation is not. Slide 8. Uncertainty vs. the Standard Uncertainty The definition of uncertainty according to the Guide to Uncertainty of Measurements is quoted on this slide. Since every measurement has an associated uncertainty, any result must be reported with either a calculated or estimated uncertainty. ALWAYS! Reporting the uncertainty with the measurement allows the data user to have a certain level of confidence of how closely the value reported represents the true value. For example, suppose you were to get a report for uranium in drinking water of 25 pCi/L. Without the reported uncertainty you have no idea what this value represents with regards to the accuracy of the measurement made. Values should be reported with their uncertainty as a multiple of the standard deviation. When one standard deviation is used this is referred to as the standard uncertainty. It is also called the one-sigma uncertainty. So lets go back to our example and say the value is 25 350 pCi/L where we have reported the one-sigma uncertainty. The meaning of this value is much clearer; this was not a value that can tell us how close to the drinking water limit of 20 pCi/L the sample actually is. In contrast, if the reported result was 25 1.2 pCi/L at one-sigma uncertainty, we could have a good deal of confidence that this sample has exceeded the 20 pCi/L limit. Slide 9. Combined Standard Uncertainty In order to calculate the combined standard uncertainty we need to establish what mathematical model is being used. The output estimate is the result of combining several different measured parameters to yield a final result. Each measured parameter will have an uncertainty associated with it. Lets use an example of a measured number of sample counts and subtract the background to get the net counts. Each measurement of counts has an uncertainty associated with it. The net counts are the output parameter and it is easy to see that sample minus background equals net counts. However how do the uncertainties of each measurement combine?