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Health Phys. 1996 Feb;70(2):160-70.

Uncertainty of historical measurements of 131I in Hanford-area vegetation.

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Pacific Northwest Laboratories, Richland, WA 99352, USA.


The Hanford Environmental Dose Reconstruction (HEDR) Project was conducted to estimate the radiation dose that individuals could have received as a result of emissions to the air and water from Hanford Site operations since 1944. The largest doses were to the human thyroid gland from 131I released into the atmosphere from Hanford facilities in the 1945-1947 time period. In support of the dose reconstruction effort, a database of historical environmental radioactivity measurements was constructed. This database includes measurements of total radioactivity for vegetation samples collected from 1945-1948 and counted using a Geiger-Mueller (GM) detector system. Because the factors used at that time to convert the GM counts to 131I activity did not take all parameters into account, and because some parameter values were inaccurate, more accurate conversion factors were developed as part of the HEDR Project. These factors can be used to estimate the actual historical activity levels. This paper summarizes the Monte Carlo uncertainty and sensitivity analysis methods used to assess the uncertainty of the newly reconstructed historical vegetation 131I activities and to identify the parameters that contributed the most uncertainty to these reconstructed activities. Based on the study of two vegetation (sagebrush) samples collected in the mid-1940's, it appears that the true 131I activity of the historical vegetation samples should be within a factor of three of the reconstructed activity. Also, the uncertainty in the parameter Icf (the fraction of the background-corrected GM measurement of a vegetation sample that resulted from 131I) was found to contribute the most uncertainty to the reconstructed 131I activities when the uncertainty in Icf was large.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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