Autoradiography using imaging plates is a conventional method for the visualization of the distribution of radionuclides. Imaging plates have high sensitivity to the charged particles of α- and β-rays but are also sensitive to γ-rays. When the radioactivity level in the sample is low, a longer exposure time is needed, and shielding of the natural background radiation is necessary. Large imaging plates (e.g., 35 × 40 cm), which can obtain the radioactivity distribution over a wider area, were developed. In this work, a low-background shielding box is developed for large imaging plates, and the shielding characteristics of the box and sensitivities of the imaging plate to α-, β-, and γ-rays are quantitatively investigated. It is shown, by considering the sensitivity of imaging plates to α-, β-, and γ-rays, that most images of environmental samples are the result of α- or β-rays emitted from radionuclides at the sample surface, but not from the whole sample. To exemplify autoradiography using the presented shielding box, some environmental samples contaminated with radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident are measured. The distribution of radionuclides is clearly visualized and, furthermore, information of the migration of radiocesium in the sample is obtained.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited