Characteristics of Beta Radiation
1. Beta radiation may travel meters in air and is moderately penetrating.
2. Beta radiation can penetrate human skin to the "germinal layer," where new skin cells are produced. If beta-emitting contaminants are allowed to remain on the skin for a prolonged period of time, they may cause skin injury.
3. Beta-emitting contaminants may be harmful if deposited internally.
4. Most beta emitters can be detected with a survey instrument (such as a CD V-700, provided the metal probe cover is open). Some beta emitters, however, produce very low energy, poorly penetrating radiation that may be difficult or impossible to detect. Examples of these are carbon-14, tritium, and sulfur-35.
5. Beta radiation cannot be detected with an ionization chamber such as a CD V-715.
6. Clothing and turnout gear provide some protection against most beta radiation. Turnout gear and dry clothing can keep beta emitters off of the skin.
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