Thorium exposure during tungsten inert gas welding with thoriated tungsten electrodes

T. Gäfvert, J. Pagels, E. Holm

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    Abstract

    The exposure to Th-232 from TIG welding with thoriated electrodes has been determined at five different workshops. Welding with both alternating and direct current was investigated. The exposure levels of Th-232 were generally below 10 mBq m(-3) in the breathing zone of the welders. Two samples from AC welding showed significant higher exposure levels, probably due to maladjustment of the TIG welding power source. Samples of the respirable fraction of Th-232 from grinding thoriated electrodes were also collected showing exposure levels of 5 mBq m(-3) or lower. A dose estimate has been made for two scenarios, one realistic and one with conservative assumptions, showing that the annual committed effective dose from inhalation of Th-232, Th-230, Th-228 and Ra-228, for a full-time TIG welder, in the realistic case is below 0.3 mSv and with conservative assumptions around 1 mSv or lower. The contribution from grinding electrodes was lower, 10 muSv or lower in the realistic case and 63 muSv or lower based on conservative assumptions. The study does not exclude occurrence of higher exposure levels under welding conditions different from those prevailing in this study.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalRadiation Protection Dosimetry
    Volume103
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)349-357
    ISSN0144-8420
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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