Measuring Background Radiation

Equipment

Stage, camera holder, Minipix-EDU

Procedure

  1. Launch the Pixet Basic software and modify settings to the following:
    1. Min Level: 0
    2. Max Level: 100
    3. Measurement Mode: Tracking
    4. Frames: 1800
    5. Exposure: 1 s
    6. Sum: check
    7. Color Map: Hot
  2. Mount the MiniPix EDU camera on the stage and click on the play button.
  3. Since background radiation is the measure of ionizing radiation in the environment, thus we do not need the radiation source.

Results

  1. Usually, we will observe the beta and gamma radiation but sometimes alpha particles might also be observed (Fig. 1).


    Figure 1. The background radiation collected during 10 minutes scan
  2. The more frames you collect, the better is the chance of spotting rare background radiation like muons and alpha particles.

Conclusion

  1. We are always exposed to radiation from surroundings and they are not always harmful. 
  2. Most of the background radiation comes from radon gas which is formed naturally when radioactive metals, like uranium, thorium, or radium, break down.
  3. These metals are present in rocks, soil, and groundwater. We are exposed to radon primarily by breathing it in.

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