Answer to Question #9723 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Radiation Basics

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

How would I calculate or where could I find the tenth-value layer of thallium-201 for concrete?

I do not recall having come across a value for the tenth-value layer (TVL) for 201Tl photons in concrete, although there may well be a value somewhere in the literature.

As you likely know, 201Tl emits multiple gamma rays and x rays with energies ranging from about 10 keV to almost 170 keV. It is possible to calculate a value for the TVL for primary photons for a dose-related quantity such as absorbed dose or exposure by using the following equation:

In equation 1, µen,i/? represents the mass energy absorption coefficient of the ith photon in the dose medium of interest. The ith photon yield is yi and its energy is Ei. The quantity µi represents the linear attenuation coefficient of the ith photon in concrete, and T represents the tenth-value layer, considering all the photons, for the dose quantity of interest. I carried out such a calculation for dose or exposure in air, simplifying a bit by assuming a fixed value for µen,i/? (in actuality, the value varies from about 0.0241 to 0.0272 cm2g-1). Values of the photon yields and energies were taken from ICRP Publication 38, Radionuclide Transformations Energy and Intensity of Emissions, International Commission on Radiological Protection, 1983. Values of mass attenuation coefficients for concrete and mass energy absorption coefficients for air can be found by clicking on the material of interest on this NIST page. In doing the calculation, I included nine different photons. I also neglected three photons, which were less than 14 keV in energy (these are all L x rays) since they are attenuated to a degree that they will not contribute noticeably to the estimation.

The form of equation 1 is not amenable to a direct analytical solution for T. It can be solved by various iterative techniques. I used such a technique that was available on a hand-held calculator. I used the mass attenuation coefficients directly rather than converting them to linear attenuation coefficients so the value of T, the tenth-value layer, that I obtained was in density thickness units. The calculated value was 11.9 g cm-2. If we assume a nominal density of 2.35 g cm-3 for ordinary concrete, we may convert this density thickness to a linear thickness of about 5.1 cm, which seems like a reasonable value.

If you have the time and resources, you might try doing the calculation yourself to attempt to confirm the value I obtained.

George Chabot, PHD, CHP

Answer posted on 17 June 2011. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.