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Kotrappa, P*; Stieff, L R.*; Mengers, T F.†; Shull, R D.†

Health Physics:
doi: 10.1097/01.HP.0000186324.14827.53

Electret ionization chambers are widely used for measuring radon and radiation. The radiation measured includes alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. These detectors do not have any electronics and as such can be introduced into magnetic field regions. It is of interest to study the effect of magnetic fields on the performance of these detectors. Relative responses are measured with and without magnetic fields present. Quantitative responses are measured as the magnetic field is varied from 8 kA/m to 716 kA/m (100 to 9,000 gauss). No significant effect is observed for measuring alpha radiation and gamma radiation. However, a significant systematic effect is observed while measuring beta radiation from a 90Sr-Y source. Depending upon the field orientation, the relative response increased from 1.0 to 2.7 (vertical position) and decreased from 1.0 to 0.60 (horizontal position). This is explained as due to the setting up of a circular motion for the electrons by the magnetic field, which may increase or decrease the path length in air depending upon the experimental configuration. It is concluded that these ionization chambers can be used for measuring alpha (and hence radon) and gamma radiation in the range of magnetic fields studied. However, caution must be exercised if measuring beta radiation.

Author Information

*Rad Elec Inc. 5714-C Industry Lane, Frederick, MD 21704; † National Institute of Standards and Technology Gaithersburg, MD 20899.

For correspondence or reprints contact: P. Kotrappa, Rad Elec Inc. 5714-C Industry Lane, Frederick, MD 21704, or email at

(Manuscript received 31 August 2005; revised manuscript received 7 September 2005, accepted 12 December 2005)

©2006Health Physics Society