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C. Marianno, J.T. Falkner, T. Jacomb-Hood, J. Trevino, L. Dromgoole, M. Shah, M. Boyd, G. Emory, D. Murchison, "Mobile Radiation Detection Security Sweeps as Teaching Tool," 61st Annual Meeting of the Health Physics Society (HPS), Spokane, Washington, 17-21 July 2016.


As part of an instrumentation laboratory at Texas A&M University, students used mobile radiation detectors to sweep public events to locate elevated areas of radiation. Traditionally, experiments for radiation detection courses are conducted in controlled lab environments. The focus of the mobile sweep laboratory was for students to use radiation detection equipment in a public setting, under real-world conditions, to search for sources of elevated background. Students were introduced to the strategies of conducting mobile sweeps, analyzing data gathered, and the challenges encountered during such activities. Laboratories took place at home games of the Texas A&M football team during the peak "tailgate" time prior to kick off when crowds outside the stadium were the largest. Sweeps were conducted using a vehicle mounted system capable of detecting gamma radiation and a backpack mounted system capable of detecting both gamma and neutron radiation. Each system included geo-positioning system (GPS) capability so that radiation data could be geo-located using mapping software. Real-time analysis was conducted via onboard displays to alert operators to locations of any potential hotspots. The data was logged by both systems for later in-depth analysis using more sophisticated spectrometry tools. The vehicle sweeps took place along public roadways and parking lots used by tailgaters at the game. The backpack sweeps took place around and among large crowds of tailgaters directly adjacent to the stadium. Although no acute sources of radiation were detected by any of the sweeps, elevated levels were identified while traversing freshly paved roadways around the stadium. Spectrum analysis of the hotspots in post-processing as part of student lab reports determined the source to be elevated levels primarily composed of 40K.

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