In a radiotherapy facility, safety in areas next to the treatment room can be of concern when irradiating downward due to oblique x-ray transmission through the floor and/or walls, especially in areas immediately adjacent or underground. Even when there is no basement underneath, a usual conservative solution is to build a thick concrete slab as the base for the treatment room. Of course, this implies deeper soil excavation and higher associated costs. As a convenient alternative, the limiting walls can be buried a certain depth below floor level to shield oblique, downward irradiation. Besides, for space considerations, laminated barriers are usually employed, and some additional shielding to the floor may be required (L-shaped barriers). In this work, the author introduces an analytical method for calculating the required wall penetration below floor level or, alternatively, the additional floor shielding for L-shaped barriers, taking into account in either case the attenuation properties of the earth underneath the vault. Interestingly, the required penetration depth for a given wall barrier (primary or secondary), relative to a reference thickness, is only a function of basic attenuation data. Likewise, for a laminated, lead-concrete barrier, the required dimensions depend on the relative amount of lead used for the wall and on the corresponding attenuation data. The shielding design criteria developed in this work to protect underground nearby sites is conservative in nature, yet it yields optimal shield dimensions for wall footing and for wall-floor shielding, avoiding the need to construct oversized concrete slab floors.
*Fundación Escuela de Medicina Nuclear, Garibaldi 405, 5500 Mendoza, Argentina.
The author declares no conflicts of interest.
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(Manuscript accepted 29 January 2016)