Pocket dosimeters are used to provide the wearer with an immediate reading of his or her exposure to x-rays and gamma rays. As the name implies, they are commonly worn in the pocket. The two types commonly used in industrial radiography are the Direct Read Pocket Dosimeter and the Digital Electronic Dosimeter.
Direct Read Pocket Dosimeter
A direct reading pocket ionization dosimeter is generally of the size and shape of a fountain pen. The dosimeter contains a small ionization chamber with a volume of approximately two milliliters. Inside the ionization chamber is a central wire anode, and attached to this wire anode is a metal coated quartz fiber. When the anode is charged to a positive potential, the charge is distributed between the wire anode and quartz fiber. Electrostatic repulsion deflects the quartz fiber, and the greater the charge, the greater the deflection of the quartz fiber. Radiation incident on the chamber produces ionization inside the active volume of the chamber. The electrons produced by ionization are attracted to, and collected by, the positively charged central anode. This collection of electrons reduces the net positive charge and allows the quartz fiber to return in the direction of the original position. The amount of movement is directly proportional to the amount of ionization which occurs.
By pointing the instrument at a light source, the position of the fiber may be observed through a system of built-in lenses. The fiber is viewed on a translucent scale which is graduated in units of exposure. Typical industrial radiography pocket dosimeters have a full scale reading of 200 milliroentgens but there are designs that will record higher amounts. During the shift, the dosimeter reading should be checked frequently. The measured exposure should be recorded at the end of each shift.
The principal advantage of a pocket dosimeter is its ability to provide the wearer an immediate reading of his or her radiation exposure. It also has the advantage of being reusable. The limited range, inability to provide a permanent record, and the potential for discharging and reading loss due to dropping or bumping are a few of the main disadvantages of a pocket dosimeter. The dosimeters must be recharged and recorded at the start of each working shift. Charge leakage, or drift, can also affect the reading of a dosimeter. Leakage should be no greater than 2 percent of full scale in a 24 hour period.
Digital Electronic Dosimeter
Another type of pocket dosimeter is the Digital Electronic Dosimeter. These dosimeters record dose information and dose rate. These dosimeters most often use Geiger-Müller counters. The output of the radiation detector is collected and, when a predetermined exposure has been reached, the collected charge is discharged to trigger an electronic counter. The counter then displays the accumulated exposure and dose rate in digital form.
Some Digital Electronic Dosimeters include an audible alarm feature which emits an audible signal or chirp with each recorded increment of exposure. Some models can also be set to provide a continuous audible signal when a preset exposure has been reached. This format helps to minimize the reading errors associated with direct reading pocket ionization chamber dosimeters and allows the instrument to achieve a higher maximum readout before resetting is necessary.