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Analysis of Fission and Activation Radionuclides Produced by a Uranium-fueled Nuclear Detonation and Identification of the Top Dose-producing Radionuclides

Kraus, Terry*; Foster, Kevin

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000086

The radiological assessment of the nuclear fallout (i.e., fission and neutron-activation radionuclides) from a nuclear detonation is complicated by the large number of fallout radionuclides. This paper provides the initial isotopic source term inventory of the fallout from a uranium-fueled nuclear detonation and identifies the significant and insignificant radiological dose producing radionuclides over 11 dose integration time periods (time phases) of interest. A primary goal of this work is to produce a set of consistent, time phase-dependent lists of the top dose-producing radionuclides that can be used to prepare radiological assessment calculations and data products (e.g., maps of areas that exceed protective action guidelines) in support of public and worker protection decisions. The ranked lists of top dose-producing radionuclides enable assessors to perform atmospheric dispersion modeling and radiological dose assessment modeling more quickly by using relatively short lists of radionuclides without significantly compromising the accuracy of the modeling and the dose projections. This paper also provides a superset-list of the top dose-producing fallout radionuclides from a uranium-fueled nuclear detonation that can be used to perform radiological assessments over any desired time phase. Furthermore, this paper provides information that may be useful to monitoring and sampling and laboratory analysis personnel to help understand which radionuclides are of primary concern. Finally, this paper may be useful to public protection decision makers because it shows the importance of quickly initiating public protection actions to minimize the radiological dose from fallout.

*Sandia National Laboratories, P.O. 5800, Mail Stop 0791, Albuquerque, NM 87185‐0791; †Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 08, L‐103, Livermore, CA 94551.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Terry Kraus, Sandia National Laboratories, P.O. 5800, Mail Stop 0791, Albuquerque, NM 87185‐0791, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 23 December 2013)

© 2014 by the Health Physics Society