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Sherbini, Sami; Ilas, Dan*; Eckerman, Keith*; DeCicco, Joseph

doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e318207ce10

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) regulations limit the dose to the skin to 500 mSv per year. This is also the dose limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The operational quantity recommended by ICRP for quantifying dose to the skin is the personal dose equivalent, Hp(0.07) and is identical to NRC's shallow dose equivalent, Hs, also measured at a skin depth of 7 mg cm−2. However, whereas ICRP recommends averaging the dose to the skin over an area of 1 cm2 regardless of the size of the exposed area of skin, USNRC requires the shallow dose equivalent to be averaged over 10 cm2. To monitor dose to the skin of the hands of workers handling radioactive materials and particularly in radiopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, which is the focus of this work, workers are frequently required to wear finger ring dosimeters. The dosimeters monitor the dose at the location of the sensitive element, but this is not the dose required to show compliance (i.e., the dose averaged over the highest exposed contiguous 10 cm2 of skin). Therefore, it may be necessary to apply a correction factor that enables estimation of the required skin dose from the dosimeter reading. This work explored the effects of finger ring placement and of the geometry of the radioactive materials being handled by the worker on the relationship between the dosimeter reading and the desired average dose. A mathematical model of the hand was developed for this purpose that is capable of positioning the fingers in any desired grasping configuration, thereby realistically modeling manipulation of any object. The model was then used with the radiation transport code MCNP to calculate the dose distribution on the skin of the hand when handling a variety of radioactive vials and syringes, as well as the dose to the dosimeter element. Correction factors were calculated using the results of these calculations and examined for any patterns that may be useful in establishing an appropriate correction factor for this type of work. It was determined that a correction factor of one applied to the dosimeter reading, with the dosimeter placed at the base of the middle finger, provides an adequate estimate of the required average dose during a monitoring period for most commonly encountered geometries. Different correction factors may be required for exceptional or unusual source geometries and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

* Oak Ridge National Laboratory; † U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Any opinions or positions expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not reflect official agency policy.

For correspondence contact: Sami Sherbini, Mail Stop CSB C3A07M, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 21 November 2010)

©2011Health Physics Society