05 March 2019
Today, the whole body counter (WBC) is the only counter in Kazakhstan that is located in the Laboratory of Nuclear and Physical Analytical Methods, National Nuclear Center of RK.
What is the substance and uniqueness of the counter?
Gamma-spectrometers in standard conditions are meant for radionuclides activity determination in environmental samples: water, soil, plants and others. Whole body counter is designed for radionuclides activity determination in human organism.
WBC is of a special design – this is a gamma-spectrometer, placed in a special chamber. Chamber decreases influence of the natural radiation background on gamma-spectrometer so that spectrometer could “catch” only radiation emitting from a human surveyed.
In the world practice, WBC chambers had been made from metal, taken underground or underwater before people commenced their nuclear activity (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, test sites, Chernobyl). For this purpose ships drawn in the beginning of the 20th century, tanks of the Second World War were taken from swamps. In our case box of the whole body counter is made from ballast stone taken from Mugalzharsk deposit. This ballast stone is unique since it contains extremely low quantity of natural radionuclides, enabling to use it as a protection from gamma-spectrometric equipment. So this material was used for WBC walls construction of 1 meter thickness.
About 300 people underwent screening on the whole body counter. It was residents from settlements located at the territory of the former Semipalatinsk Test Site: Sarzhal, Bodene and Dolon’. Upon screening data technogenic radionuclides were not detected in organisms of people.
For reference. The task of the Laboratory for Nuclear and Physical Analytical Methods includes determination of composition and specific activity of natural and technogenic radionuclides in environmental samples, construction materials, food products and human bio-substrates. Besides spectrometric analysis the laboratory is occupied in the process of evaluating human exposure from internal and external radiation, radioecological researches