Magnitudes, units and prefixes as might be used in radiation protection (video)

Source: Ionactive Radiation Protection Resource

Which is larger? 100 nSv or 0.1 micro Sv? Which sounds (or looks) larger? This resource considers magnitudes, units and prefixes. Whilst applicable to any situation which uses numbers, this resource considers how this applies to radiation protection. The animation was first posted to YouTube in 2012, it has now been upscaled and features on the Ionactive Vimeo channel direct from our website. 

Notes about this video

The background to this resource is when Ionactive was working with a certain security equipment provider that was trialling an x-ray backscatter personal monitoring system at airports. The dose per scan was 0.1 micro Sv, but those not so happy with the equipment were reporting 100 nSv/scan. This got us thinking about units, prefixes and scale that are often used in radiation protection. Working again with Dr Chris Collins, Chris produced some animated resource we could use in training. This resource is still on YouTube but has been upscaled and now features on our Vimeo channel directly from the Ionactive website. Whilst it has a radiation related theme, it is applicable to any situation which uses numbers. 

Note: x-ray back scatter technology is not currently used in UK aviation security for monitoring of passengers  (as of 2024). There are various reasons for this (depending on what you read). The EU had an issue with justification, pointing out that they believed that microwave (mm wave) and / or passive or active non-ionising radiation based technology could provide the desired security without needing to use ionising radiation. In addition, justification was an issue in that the person being screened did not receive a net benefit from their own scan (unlike say an x-ray at a hospital), whereas benefit was received from all the other potential scans of all the other passengers. With an Ionactive pragmatic hat on, comparing the 0.1 micro Sv per scan, with the likely whole body (penetrating) exposure from travelling in commercial aircraft is an interesting discussion for another day!  

Imagination is more important than knowledge

– Albert Einstein -