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Benchmarking calibration for low-level gamma spectrometric measurements of environmental samples

The increased interest in measuring low levels of radionuclides in the environment has resulted in advances in detector technology, which, in turn, require complex calibration techniques. An accurate determination of detection efficiency is essential to improving the quality of analytical data and the estimation of the total measurement uncertainty. Environmental laboratories are typically interested in calibration methods for a wide range of sample matrices and geometries. Monte Carlo simulation, involving model calibration using a small number of well-selected, low-uncertainty point or volume standard sources, is a cost-effective alternative to the purely experimental approach, which requires multiple volume standards. Additionally, well-calibrated numerical models allow the optimization of measurement geometries and the improvement of data accuracy through the estimation of self-attenuation and coincidence corrections.

The CRP participants are working to coordinate the development of validated calibration methods relying on combined experimental and modelling approaches and to establish traceability of results through comprehensive quantification of measurement uncertainties associated with low level gamma spectrometric analyses of environmental samples.

Participation, time-frame and expected outcomes:
The project involves 12 participants from 10 Member States and one joint research centre and extends over the period 20082012. The results of the study are expected to be published in an IAEA Technical Report and in the international scientific literature. It is expected that this study will allow Member State laboratories to increase the reliability of their environmental radioactivity data. The CRP is coordinated jointly by and the Agency's Environment Laboratories in Monaco and Seibersdorf. For more information you can address Ms. Iolanda Osvath, Marine Environment Laboratories, Monaco and Ms. Alessia Ceccatelli, Terrestrial Environment Laboratories, Seibersdorf.