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Quality Assurance

The ESER Quality Assurance Program consists of five ongoing tasks which measure:

  1. method uncertainty
  2. data completeness
  3. data accuracy, using spike, performance evaluation and laboratory control samples
  4. data precision, using split samples, duplicate samples and recounts
  5. presence of contamination in samples, using blanks.

Sample results are compared to criteria described in the Quality Assurance Project Plan for the INL Site Offsite Environmental Surveillance Program (VNSFS 2018a). Criteria established by DOE for Quality Assurance activities include:

  • Quality assurance program
  • Personnel training and qualification
  • Quality improvement process
  • Documents and records
  • Established work processes
  • Established standards for design and verification
  • Established procurement requirements
  • Inspection and acceptance testing
  • Management assessment
  • Independent assessment

Assessments of ESER data quality are achieved through analysis of spike, performance evaluation, and duplicate samples; through sample recounts; through analysis of blank samples; and through comparison of sample results to established method quality objectives. These assessments are documented in the ESER Quality Assurance for the First Quarter of 2019 (VNSFS 2019).

Radiation in Our World

Radiation has always been a part of the natural environment in the form of cosmic radiation, cosmogenic radionuclides [carbon-14 (14C), Beryllium-7 (7Be), and tritium (3H)], and naturally occurring radionuclides, such as potassium-40 (40K), and the thorium, uranium, and actinium series radionuclides which have very long half lives. Additionally, human-made radionuclides were distributed throughout the world beginning in the early 1940s. Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons from 1945 through 1980 and nuclear power plant accidents, such as the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union during 1986, have resulted in fallout of detectable radionuclides around the world. This natural and manmade global fallout radioactivity is referred to as background radiation. MORE

Radiation Exposure and Dose

The primary concern regarding radioactivity is the amount of energy deposited by particles or gamma radiation to the surrounding environment. It is possible that the energy from radiation may damage living tissue. When radiation interacts with the atoms of a given substance, it can alter the number of electrons associated with those atoms (usually removing orbital electrons). This is called ionization. MORE