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Contributions of Various Radiological Sources to Background in a Suburban Environment

Milvenan, Richard D.; Hayes, Robert B.*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000564
Operational Topics

This work is a brief overview and comparison of dose rates stemming from both indoor and outdoor natural background radiation and household objects within a suburban environment in North Carolina. Combined gamma and beta dose rates were taken from indoor objects that ranged from the potassium in fruit to the americium in smoke detectors. For outdoor measurements, various height and time data samples were collected to show fluctuations in dose rate due to temperature inversion and geometric attenuation. Although each sample tested proved to have a statistically significant increase over background using Students t-test, no sample proved to be more than a minor increase in natural radiation dose. The relative contributions from natural radioactivity such as potassium in foods and common household items are shown to be easily distinguished from background using standard handheld instrumentation when applied in a systematic, methodological manner.

*Nuclear Engineering Department, North Carolina State University, 2500 Stinson Street, Raleigh, NC 27695.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Richard Milvenan graduated from the United States Military Academy on May 26, 2012, with degrees in physics and nuclear engineering. He was commissioned an engineer officer in the U.S. Army. Following the Engineer Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Richard attended the Sapper Leader Course and the U.S. Army Ranger School. Richard was then assigned to the 137th Engineer Company, 307th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. There he served as a company intelligence support officer and platoon leader. Upon re-deployment, Richard was assigned as the executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, followed by the executive officer of B Company, 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power). While fulfilling his military duties, he has been concurrently pursing his masters of nuclear engineering at North Carolina State University. His email address is

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