Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences

First Committee Member

Ralf Sudowe

Second Committee Member

Gary Cerefice

Third Committee Member

Steen Madsen

Fourth Committee Member

Robbin Hickman

Number of Pages



Past nuclear accidents, such as Chernobyl, resulted in a large release of radionuclides into the atmosphere. Radiological assessment of the vicinity of the site of the incident is vital to assess the exposure levels and dose received by the population and workers. Therefore, it is critical to thoroughly understand the situation and risks associated with a particular event in a timely manner in order to properly manage the event. Current atmospheric radiological assessments of alpha emitting radioisotopes include acquiring large quantities of air samples, chemical separation of radionuclides, sample mounting, counting through alpha spectrometry, and analysis of the data. The existing methodology is effective, but time consuming and labor intensive. Autoradiography, and the properties of phosphor imaging films, may be used as an additional technique to facilitate and expedite the alpha analysis process in these types of situations. Although autoradiography is not as sensitive to alpha radiation as alpha spectrometry, autoradiography may benefit alpha analysis by providing information about the activity as well as the spatial distribution of radioactivity in the sample under investigation. The objective for this research was to develop an efficient method for quantification and visualization of air filter samples taken in the aftermath of a nuclear emergency through autoradiography using 241Am and 239Pu tracers.

Samples containing varying activities of either 241Am or 239Pu tracers were produced through microprecipitation and assayed by alpha spectroscopy. The samples were subsequently imaged and an activity calibration curve was produced by comparing the digital light units recorded from the image to the known activity of the source. The usefulness of different phosphor screens was examined by exposing each type of film to the same standard nuclide for varying quantities of time. Unknown activity samples created through microprecipiation containing activities of either 241Am or 239Pu as well as air filters doped with beta and alpha emitting nuclides were imaged and activities were determined by comparing the image to the activity calibration curve.


Air Filters; Alpha radiation; Alpha rays; Autoradiography; Nuclear accidents; Nuclear emergency; Phosphors; Radioactive pollution of the atmosphere – Measurement; Radioisotopes; Radionuclides; Storage-phosphor


Environmental Sciences | Nuclear | Radiochemistry

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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