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Health Phys. 2000 Oct;79(4):425-30.

Self absorption of alpha and beta particles in a fiberglass filter.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA 17013, USA.


Environmental air sampling uses fiberglass filters to collect particulate matter from the air and then a gas flow detector to measure the alpha and beta activity on the filter. When counted, the filter is located close to the detector so the alpha and beta particles emerging from the filter travel toward the detector at angles ranging from zero to nearly 90 degrees to the normal to the filter surface. The particles at small angles can readily pass through the filter, but particles at large angles pass through a significant amount of filter material and can be totally absorbed. As a result, counting losses can be great. For 4 MeV alpha particles, the filter used in this experiment absorbs 43% of the alpha particles; for 7.5 MeV alphas, the absorption is 13%. The measured beta activities also can have significant counting losses. Beta particles with maximum energies of 0.2 and 2.0 MeV have absorptions of 44 and 2%, respectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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