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We present the performance of a γγ-coincidence spectrometer for measuring the activities of thorium and uranium daughters in environmental samples. The spectrometer consists of two NaI(Tl) detectors facing each other inside a low-background passive shield. We present coincidence gating schemes for achieving the best signal-to-noise ratios, coincidence detection efficiencies, background levels, and minimum detectable activities. The spectrometer is simulated using Geant4 to correct sample efficiencies for self-absorption effects. The device is used to measure thorium and uranium daughter activities in Brazil nuts, potting mix, and magazine paper. Our results for Brazil nuts agree with some, but not all, previous measurements. Thorium or uranium daughter activities have previously not been reported for commercial potting mix. For magazine paper, our measured activities are lower than most previously determined values.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Applied radiation and isotopes : including data, instrumentation and methods for use in agriculture, industry and medicine
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Thorium. A radioactive element of the actinide series of metals. It has an atomic symbol Th, atomic number 90, and atomic weight 232.04. It is used as fuel in nuclear reactors to produce fissionable uranium isotopes. Because of its radioopacity, various thorium compounds are used to facilitate visualization in roentgenography.
Inorganic compounds that contain thorium as an integral part of the molecule.
Thorium oxide (ThO2). A radiographic contrast agent that was used in the early 1930s through about 1954. High rates of mortality have been linked to its use and it has been shown to cause liver cancer.
Inorganic compounds that contain uranium as an integral part of the molecule.
Uranium. A radioactive element of the actinide series of metals. It has an atomic symbol U, atomic number 92, and atomic weight 238.03. U-235 is used as the fissionable fuel in nuclear weapons and as fuel in nuclear power reactors.