Intercomparison of Activity Size Distributions of Thoron Progeny by Alpha- and Gamma-counting Methods

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It is difficult to calibrate sampling devices using radon or thoron progeny or particles measuring 1–4 nm; therefore, an interlaboratory comparison is important to verify the performance of graded diffusion batteries for the activity size distributions of the “unattached” progeny. This paper describes the results of an interlaboratory comparison of 220Rn progeny size distributions using graded diffusion batteries by alpha- and gamma-counting methods with different data inversion schemes. Graded diffusion batteries designed at the Inhalation Toxicology Research Institute and at the Environmental Measurement Laboratory were used in the study. Screens and backup filters from the Environmental Measurement Laboratory-graded diffusion batteries were counted simultaneously in alpha counters for total alpha activities, and those of the Inhalation Toxicology Research Institute-graded diffusion batteries were counted in a gamma detector for gamma activities from 212Pb. Because of the different counting methods and data analysis procedures used, this interlaboratory study of 220Rn progeny allows a more rigorous way of testing instrument performance. 212Pb particles generated in well-controlled environments of oxygen, nitrogen, or oxygen with 1 ppm of nitrogen oxide were measured. In general, good agreement in activity size distributions was obtained from these two methods. Some differences observed in individual size spectra were attributable to the data inversion programs used in each laboratory. When the data were analyzed by the same computer program, most differences disappeared.

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