Conservatism in linear accelerator bunker shielding

Abstract

Conservatism in the shielding of linear accelerator bunkers is engrained in the methodology of international protocols and guidelines. However, the degree to which this cautious and prudent approach is necessary should be judged against the International Committee of Radiation Protection’s principles of exposure justification and optimisation. Radiation survey data from 75 concrete barriers was aggregated and compared to exposure predictions from three popular protocols in order to assess any conservatism in factors used to calculate scatter, leakage and beam penetration. These findings, in addition to a list of common conservative practices, were then used to tally the possible fiscal impact of an over-conservative approach to linear accelerator bunker shielding. While primary beam penetration was accurately predicted, stated conservatisms in scatter and leakage was found to be largely misplaced. An estimated total factor of conservatism calculated from a tally was found to be in agreement with literature values of radiotherapist occupational exposure. This factor amounted to a cost increase of 43% for a single bunker if all conservative assumptions were made. There are aspects of linear accelerator shielding design that have been shown to be overly conservative, beyond what is justifiable by the International Committee of Radiation Protection. Some adjustment to international protocol methodology may be required.

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Correspondence to James Rijken.

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Rijken, J., Bhat, M., Crowe, S. et al. Conservatism in linear accelerator bunker shielding. Australas Phys Eng Sci Med 42, 781–787 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13246-019-00782-1

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Keywords

  • Shielding
  • Conservatism
  • NCRP 151
  • Bunker
  • Linear accelerator