Measurement Solutions Blog

The right steps can protect workers from the gamma rays emitted by nuclear density gauges.

In a number of fields, the importance of accurate density measurement cannot be understated. That is one of the reasons why nuclear density gauges are such vital tools in manufacturing, mining and other industrial applications. The ability to get real-time measurements of liquid and slurry can improve productivity and efficiency in a wide range of uses.

It is important to remember that these gauges contain radioactive materials, which can cause issues if not handled carefully. As such, workers must be aware of the potential dangers and how to mitigate risks when using them.

How do nuclear density gauges work?

In order to arrive at an accurate and precise measurement, nuclear density gauges send electromagnetic waves – typically in the form of gamma radiation – through the liquid or slurry being measured. Based on the energy readings a gauge detects, it can calculate the precise density of the material.

Gamma rays emitted from nuclear density gauges feature energies greater than 100,000 electron volts.

One key feature of nuclear density gauges is that they can reach those measurements without coming into contact with the material at all. This ensures that there is no risk of contamination, but it also means that the gauge must use higher-energy electromagnetic energy – such as gamma rays – to penetrate holding containers. According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), gamma rays are some of the most active forms of radiation; with energies over 100,000 electron volts, these waves can easily penetrate plastic, steel and the human body. Even lead doesn't fully stop them.

Since the gamma rays of nuclear density gauges are exceptionally powerful, it is important that the utmost care and attentiveness to safety be taken when working with these tools.

How can workers stay safe?

One of the most important aspects of ensuring worker safety when using a nuclear density gauge is to have a radiation management plan in place, as well as to make sure employees are aware of it. According to ARPANSA's code of practice, such a plan should include information about the following:

  • Storage, transportation, repair, and disposal of a gauge.
  • Monitoring radiation levels.
  • What to do in the case of an emergency or incident.
  • Ensuring accountability and proper records keeping.
  • The roles and responsibilities of people working with a gauge.

Additionally, the International Atomic Energy Agency notes that the radiation source should routinely be checked for leaks or other damages.

Workers should be familiar with radiation management plans when working with nuclear density gauges.Workers should be familiar with radiation management plans when working with nuclear density gauges.

With the proper safety procedures in place, organisations across a number of industries can benefit from the high accuracy and precision of nuclear density gauges. For more information, contact SRO Technology today.