Practical Instruments for Public Protection


M. J. Stangler, A. Brodsky


Instrument standards for detection and interdiction of radiation sources have been developed cooperatively by committees of volunteer and government agencies, as presented in the recent Health Physics Society summer school textbook, Public Protection from Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Terrorism. Programs of the Department of Homeland Security are refurbishing older instruments for use in community-based response programs. Documents from the early 1950s show that early scintillation counter instruments capable of measuring exposure rates in the range of permissible routine operational levels from aircraft surveys could still be used to rapidly survey by air the extent of contamination from dispersion of radioactivity by a terrorist, allowing early planning of emergency response for saving life. Instruments developed at national laboratories according to military specifications were tested in fallout fields from nuclear weapons tests and many were found to be operable in any adverse weather conditions likely to be confronted after a terrorist attack. Instruments developed in the early 1950s under the initiatives of Jack Greene for civil defense were distributed by the millions to responders throughout the nation; many are still operable and in use today in many chapter educational programs. Examination of the specifications of these early instrument programs can provide guidance on the characteristics of radiation instruments needed in today's homeland security programs. This paper represents opinions of the authors alone, and not necessarily those of any employers or associates.


This abstract was presented at the 38th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Materials Control and Security: Risk Assessment, Handling, and Detection", Emergency Response Planning and Programs – Part I Session, 2/13/2005 - 2/16/2005, held in New Orleans, LA.

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