Radiological risks of neutron interrogation of food

S. Albright, R. Seviour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In recent years there has been growing interest in the use of neutron scanning techniques for security. Neutron techniques with a range of energy spectra including thermal, white and fast neutrons have been shown to work in different scenarios. As international interest in neutron scanning increases the risk of activating cargo, especially foodstuffs must be considered. There has been a limited amount of research into the activation of foods by neutron beams and we have sought to improve the amount of information available. In this paper we show that for three important metrics; activity, ingestion dose and Time to Background there is a strong dependence on the food being irradiated and a weak dependence on the energy of irradiation. Previous studies into activation used results based on irradiation of pharmaceuticals as the basis for research into activation of food. The earlier work reports that 24Na production is the dominant threat which motivated the search for 23Na(n, γ)24Na in highly salted foods. We show that 42K can be more significant than 24Na in low sodium foods such as Bananas and Potatoes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Radiological Protection
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

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