CHME 471. Health Physics


1. Course number and name

CHME 471. Health Physics

2. Credits and contact hours

3 credit hours = 45 contact hours per semester

3. Instructor’s or course coordinator’s name

Dr. Ila Pillalamarri 

4. Text book, title, author, and year

Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection – 3rd Edition, by  J.  E. Turner  ISBN 13: 978-3-5274060-6-7; Weinheim: Wiley-VCH (2007).

a. other supplemental materials


5. Specific course information

a. catalog description: Introduction to atomic and nuclear radiation/radioactivity, radioactive decay, interactions of radiation with matter, biological effects of radiation, radiation measurement and statistics, radiation dosimetry, radiation protection guidance, external and internal radiation protection, risk calculation.

b. prerequisites: none co-requisites: MATH 192, CHME 470

c. required, elective, or selected elective (as per Table 5-1): elective

6. Specific goals for the course

a. The student will…

  1. Review the basic physical principles, units, and dimension analysis required for solving Health Physics problems
  2. Develop the ability to solve problems using the equations to calculate:
    1. Atomic Structure and Atomic Radiation: binding and ionization energies, atomic densities, characteristic X-rays and Auger electrons
    2. The Nucleus and Nuclear Radiation: nuclear binding energies, alpha particle energy and recoil nucleus energy in an interaction, calculate Q of beta particle, antineutrino, recoil nucleus, orbital electron, internal conversion electron, and internal conversion coefficient,
    3. Interaction of heavy charged particles, beta and gamma radiation with matter: maximum energy transfer, stopping power, mean excitation energies, range and slowing down time. collisional stopping power, radiative stopping power, radiation yield, range, slowing-down time. Photon threshold energy, energy of the scattered photon and the Compton shift in wavelength, momentum of the scattered photon, average kinetic energy of Compton Recoil electrons, linear and mass attenuation coefficients,  threshold energy and atomic cross section for the photodisintegration of a radionuclide, rate of energy absorption per unit mass.
    4. Statistics Know the concepts of Statistics of radioactive disintegration, the Binomial Poisson Normal distributions, error and error propagation, counting rates, Criteria for Radiobioassay. Calculate Minimum Significant Measured Activity, Type-I Errors, Minimum Detectable True Activity, Type-II Errors.
    5. Radiation Dosimetry: Know and calculate the units of exposure, absorbed dose, dose equivalent, kerma, specific energy, lineal energy; alpha and low-energy beta emitters distributed in tissue, charged-particle beams, point source of gamma rays, neutrons; measurement of exposure, absorbed dose, X- and Gamma-Ray, neutron dose
  3. Know the concepts of
    1. Radiation Detection and measurements methods: Ionization in gases, Ionization current,W values, Ionization pulses,Gas-filled detectors, Ionization in semiconductors, Band theory of solids, semiconductors, Radiation measuring devices; Scintillators, Organic and Inorganic scintillation detectors;  Photographic Film;Thermoluminescence, Optically stimulated luminescence, Radiophotoluminescence, Chemical dosimeters, Calorimetry, Cerenkov detectors, Neutron Detection: Slow, Intermediate and Fast Neutrons.
    2. Chemical and Biological Effects of Radiation: Radiation effects time frame, physical and prechemical chances in irradiated water, chemical yields in water; Sources of Human Data biological effects: The life span study, medical radiation, radium-dial painters, uranium miners, accidents, acute radiation syndrome; Delayed somatic effects: Cancer, life shortening cataracts; Dose–response relationships, factors affecting dose response, relative biological effectiveness, dose rate, oxygen enhancement ratio, chemical modifiers.
    3. Radiation-Protection Criteria and Exposure Limits: Become knowledgeable about objectives of radiation protection, elements of radiation-protection programs, The NCRP and ICRP; NCRP/ICRP Dosimetric Quantities: Equivalent dose, Effective dose, Committed equivalent dose, Committed effective dose ,Limits on intake; Risk estimates for radiation protection; Current exposure limits of the NCRP and ICRP: Occupational limits, Non-occupational limits Exposure of individuals under 18 Years of age; Occupational limits in the Dose-Equivalent System -The “2007 ICRP Recommendations”.
    4. Internal Dosimetry and Radiation Protection: ICRP-30 Dosimetric Model for the Respiratory System and Gastrointestinal Tract, ICRP-66 Human Respiratory Tract Model, ICRP-30 Dosimetric Model for the Organ Activities as Functions of Time,  for Submersion in a Radioactive Gas Cloud ,  Metabolic Data for Reference Man, ICRP Publication 89, Specific Absorbed Fraction, Specific Effective Energy, and Committed Quantities; Number of Transformations in Source Organs over 50 Y.
    5. External Radiation Protection: Design concepts of distance, time, and shielding for radiation protection, primary and secondary protective barriers;  shielding of Gamma-Ray, X-rays, beta and neutron radiation, ICRP Report 147.
  4. Hands on experience with background radiation and contamination measurement, concepts of statistical variation of radiation measurement.
  5. Term Paper group interaction, writing manuscript, and personal presentation.

b. Criterion 3 Student Outcomes specifically addressed by this course are found in a mapping of outcomes against all CHME courses in the curriculum.

Elective courses are not found in the mapping.  The outcomes of this elective course are the student will develop:

(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science;
(b) an ability to analyze and interpret data;
(e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve scientific problems;
(g) an ability to communicate effectively;
(h) acquire the broad education necessary to solve Health Physics problems in real and scientific applications;
(i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning;
(k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and current guidelines necessary for health physics problems;
(l) acquire familiarity of various Crteria, Guidelines and Limits involved in health physics procedures.

7. Brief list of topics to be covered

  • Review of the basic physical principles, units, and dimension analysis
  • Atomic Structure and Atomic Radiation
  • The Nucleus and Nuclear Radiation
  • Radioactivity
  • Cosmic, primoridal, environmental radiation background
  • Interaction of heavy charged particles with matter
  • Interaction of beta radiation with matter
  • Interaction of gamma radiation with matter
  • Interaction of neutron radiation with matter
  • Radiation Detection and measurements methods
  • Statistics of  Radiation Measurements
  • Radiation Dosimetry
  • Chemical and Biological Effects of Radiation
  • Radiation-Protection Criteria and Exposure Limits
  • External Radiation Protection
  • Internal Dosimetry and Radiation Protection
  • Internal Dosimetry – Lung and Whole Body counting
  • Low dose radiation research concepts and needs

Common Syllabus Addendum

The NMSU Department of Chemical Engineering maintains a syllabus addendum containing course requirements common to all courses with the CH E prefix online.  This document is accessible from the URL: