J. Trevino, C. Marianno, “Calculation of Canine Dose Rate Conversion Factors for Photons and Electrons”, Journal of Health Physics, 144, 1, 20 (2018).
Urban search and rescue (USAR) dogs are valuable members of their teams and play key roles in performing successful missions. A pair of dogs can do the work of dozens of people, the dogs are able to quickly sniff around collapsed structures and zip through constricted hallways with far greater accuracy than their plodding human counterparts. While in contaminated areas, their human counterparts are afforded the benefit of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep exposures to chemical, biological and radiological substances to a minimum; USAR dogs, on the other hand, are not. In an effort to allow USAR dogs to be used to their full potential, PPE is often not worn as it inhibits their ability to move in and around obstacles to use their strong senses of smell and hearing. In addition, these animals may snag or be snagged on debris or structures, which may require rescue of the animal. In a collaborative effort between Texas A&M University’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and the College of Veterinary Medicine, researchers are attempting to estimate the extent of the radiation doses received by these valuable team members during missions where radioactive contamination is present. Currently there are no dose rate conversion factors for USAR dogs, and those that are available are calculated at a height of 1 m. To address this issue, a more suitable height of 40 cm was chosen, and dose conversion factors were calculated for monoenergetic photon sources ranging from 15 keV to 15 MeV and for monoenergetic electron sources ranging from 10 keV to 10 MeV. The radioactivity is assumed to be uniformly distributed on the surface of the ground. Forty centimeters was chosen as the height of interest for the three breeds FEMA prefers as USAR dogs. These dose conversion factors will permit dose estimates to be made, allowing these animals to do their jobs successfully while keeping their radiation doses as low as possible.