The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Francis Marion University has received the donation of an EG&G ORTEC Airguard Radon Monitoring System from David T. James of Oak Ridge, Tenn., in honor of his late wife, Helen James.
Mrs. James used the system to operate a commercial radon testing business until her death in 1999.
Radon, a colorless, odorless, inert gas, is one of the daughter products of the naturally occurring uranium found everywhere in the ground. Radon testing of homes before sale or purchase is necessary in many parts of the U.S.
Testing can be accomplished by exposing a canister of activated charcoal to the ambient air in the home. Radon atoms in the air are adsorbed onto the surface of the charcoal. Once resealed, the canister can be counted in the Airguard low-background counting system to detect the gamma rays emitted by the daughter products of radon.
“Francis Marion University has carried out radon surveys of many of the buildings on campus and some private homes in the surrounding communities. This donated equipment will enable us to have a dedicated radon detection facility available throughout the year,” said David Peterson, chairman of FMU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Our health physics majors will be able to carry out more extensive radon surveys using the Airguard system.”
Health physics is the branch of physics dealing with radiation protection. FMU has had a nationally recognized health physics program since 1984.
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