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J. Erchinger, "Investigating the operational Capabilities of Custom and Pedestrian Portal Monitoring Systems for Screening Livestock for Radioactive Contamination," M.S. Thesis, Health Physics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (2013).


Livestock and companion animals are valuable economically and emotionally in many states' economies and to their citizens. In a radiological emergency situation, the loss of a large amount of livestock could be devastating to a state or national economy. If such an event occurred, there are currently no screening and decontamination protocols for the handling of livestock. This research investigated current policies and procedures for monitoring and decontamination of livestock and companion animals, as well as testing pedestrian portal monitors and a newly designed livestock portal capable of isotopic identification. It was discovered that only ten states addressed companion animals or livestock anywhere in their emergency planning. None of the states included detailed procedures for livestock.

To address livestock screening, three pedestrian portal monitoring systems were tested in the field and lab trials - the Johnson AM801, TSA TPM903A, and Ludlum 52-1-1. Factors such as operability and ease of use were also considered. All three systems would alarm when a 5 μCi 137Cs source was used and the occupancy sensor was triggered. The Johnson AM801 system was determined to be the most appropriate for use in livestock screening due to sensitive alarm algorithms, greater position discrimination with four detectors, and ease of transition for agricultural purposes. This system also used energy windowing for low-resolution spectral capabilities.

The last phase of this project included designing and constructing a portal system that also included isotopic identification capabilities. An array of six sodium iodide detectors was mounted on a panel and field-tested beside a cattle chute and in a walkway. The custom portal, the Bovine Screening Portal (BSP), observed increased count rates from a 5 μCi 137Cs source in live time from the incoming count rate and in subsequent post-processing.

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Associated Project(s):

  • Effective Contamination Detection for Livestock Following a Radiological Event

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