Environmental Radiological Surveillance in Perspective: the Relative Importance of Environmental Media As a Function of Effluent Pathway and Radionuclides

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Most published guides for environmental radiological surveillance emphasize the collection and analysis of specific media (e.g. air, water, milk, direct radiation) without indicating the absolute or relative importance of the media sampled or of the radio analyses performed. To determine the relative importance of medium/nuclide combinations in environmental surveillance, the experience at major DOE sites and at operating nuclear power plants was reviewed. Typical release rates for nuclide groupings (tritium, noble gases, radioiodine, mixed fission or activation products, and transuranics) in those effluent streams were obtained from the literature. Using these release rates, followed through various environmental pathways, radiation doses were calculated for individuals in the local environs of each type of site. Following these calculations, each medium was ranked for a given nuclide/effluent pathway combination providing the relative importance of sampling specific environmental media with emphasis on the radiation dose to a critical population group. Finally, the results of these environmental pathway studies are presented in tabular form to provide ready reference for environmental surveillance program design or evaluation.

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