Accelerator Radiation Safety Newsletter


(all articles are to be considered personal/professional in nature and do not reflect the opinions of the institutions described unless otherwise stated)


An Official Publication of the

Health Physics Society's Accelerator Section

Circulation: 493

Third Quarter 2015 /
Volume 25, Number 3



The Newsletter Editor’s Message
Patrick B. Bragg


As always I would like to thank all of you who have contributed to the newsletter this quarter.

My Dad raised me to always, “give credit where credit is due”, to that end, I must highlight the service of two section members for their “behind the scenes” work in ensuring the newsletter and web-site are successes:

Dr. Schwahn, a recent past accelerator section newsletter editor, identified some deficiencies in our section’s web-site.  With no hesitation he jumped in and corrected the deficiencies and updated a number of areas within the website, including making it easier for people to access.  If you have not been to the website recently I encourage all of you to follow the link  and check it out again (for the first time).  Thank you Scott for finding the time to continue to mentor, help, and support the newsletter editor position.


Steven Frey, Past President of our section, and avid section member is well known to many of you.  But I venture to guess that what many of you don’t know is that Steve has been true blessing in helping me fulfill my responsibilities as your editor.  Since my start in this position (4th Qtr 2014) Steve has been instrumental to the successful distribution and posting of the newsletter to the section web-site.  Due to unknown difficulties with my internet provided I have had to rely on Steve to get the newsletter out.  Thank you Steve for finding the patience and time in ensuring the newsletter is distributed on-time and in a recognizable form.


Everyone please help me in congratulating Scott and Steve for their dedication and support of our Accelerator Section.



The President’s Message

Elaine Marshall


I have been surprised at how quickly time passes.  It has already been a couple of months since the annual meeting in Indianapolis.


I write this sitting in the welcome and first plenary session of the Accelerator Safety Workshop being hosted at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  Many of you are here as there are 116 people registered.  The most striking aspect of this workshop is how closely accelerator health physicists are aligned with the researchers and the operations staff.  In other disciplines, the health physics staffs are compliance officers.  We are so fortunate to be part of the team and to be recognized for the expertise we each bring to the table.  The second thing that strikes me is how close the accelerator community is.  I have seen several new faces, but most are familiar.  This time of year brings budget and labor concerns, changes to our research missions and things like performance reviews.  This workshop is a most welcome break, giving me an opportunity to catch up on the lessons learned across the DOE complex, get the insight on the new regulations and standards, and get the insight on the technical advances being made in accelerator physics and health physics.  As a community, we accomplish as much as we do by talking to and mentoring each other.


Given how busy we all are, I do want to remind everyone to start thinking about the Mid-Year and Annual Meetings.  The Mid-Year will be in Austin and the Annual in Spokane.  This past July had a good technical program and its success was attributable to the work that you all do.  The call for papers will be out before we know it.  If you have ideas for invited talks, drop me a note at


Our Secretary/Treasurer, Linnea Wahl, has invited you to welcome others to the Accelerator Section.  I wish to expand upon that and encourage everyone to get even more involved.  Please consider running for a Board position, submitting an article to our quarterly newsletter, sponsoring a student, or presenting a paper.  I guarantee that you would get a great return on your investment.


I am exciting about the upcoming year.  If you have any comments or questions, pass them along.  I want to continue to grow our Section, but I need your help.


The President‑Elect’s Message
Lorraine Day, PhD

The following article appeared on the very day that Patrick Bragg, our illustrious editor ( sent out the request for our 3rd quarter accelerator newsletter.  I thought it interesting both from the potential health physics aspects as well as the use of accelerators in an effort to understand what was indeed happening with the uptake mechanisms for heavy metals.  As we are well aware; transuranics fall into the heavy metal category.  Perhaps more than 40 + years ago; I was involved in trying to understand resistance of pathogenic bacteria to antibiotics.  The really pathogenic ones were able to abstract iron (crucial for growth) from dilute sources which also helped to make them antibiotic resistant.  They did this through the production of siderophores.  Enter a mammalian protein called Sidercalin.  Siderocalin (Scn), lipocalin-2, NGAL, 24p3 is a mammalian lipocalin-type protein that can prevent iron acquisition by pathogenic bacteria by binding siderophores, which are iron-binding chelators made by microorganisms.


Iron is essential for almost all life for processes such as respiration and DNA synthesis. Despite being one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust, the bioavailability of iron in many environments such as the soil or sea is limited by the very low solubility of the Fe3+ ion. This is the predominant state of iron in aqueous, non-acidic, oxygenated environments.

·         One actinide of special interest is Curium.  This element is made by bombarding plutonium with helium ions. It is so radioactive it glows in the dark. Several kilograms of curium are produced each year, and it cannot be found in nature.


·         As curium is only available in extremely limited quantities, it has few uses. However, it was used on a Mars mission as an alpha particle source for the Alpha Proton X-Ray Spectrometer. Curium is a potential isotope power source as it releases three watts of heat energy per gram.  When the mammalian protein Siderocalin is mixed with Curium to form a complex; it exhibits bright red luminescence when exposed to UV light; as shown in the picture below:


Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in conjunction with PNASS Scientists reported a major advance in understanding the biological chemistry of radioactive materials. The research was led by Rebecca Abergel who worked with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.  Their research indicated that the presence of the anti-bacterial protein Siderocalin, which is normally involved in sequestering iron is also capable of transporting plutonium; americium and other actinides into cells.  This represents a milestone in understanding the biological chemistry of radioactive materials.  The research also is the first report of protein structures containing transuranic elements and how the presence of the protein can sensitize the metal’s luminescence.  This has interesting insights into how we might be able to treat/reverse internalization of transuranics and provide rapid treatment of such affected individuals.  The presence of the attached protein also provides visualization and distribution probabilities for such radioactive materials.  The team used crystallography to characterize siderocalin‑transuranic actinide complexes, gaining unprecedented insights into the biological coordination of heavy radioelements. The work was performed at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), a Department of Energy synchrotron located at Berkeley Lab.

The author are quoted thusly:


Abergel’s group has already developed a compound to sequester actinides and expel them from the body. They have put it in a pill form that can be taken orally, a necessity in the event of radiation exposure amongst a large population. Last year the FDA approved a clinical trial to test the safety of the drug, and they are seeking funding for the tests.


However, a basic understanding of how actinides act in the body was still not well known. “Although [actinides] are known to rapidly circulate and deposit into major organs such as bone, liver, or kidney after contamination, the specific molecular mechanisms associated with mammalian uptake of these toxic heavy elements remain largely unexplored,” Abergel and her co-authors wrote.


The current research described in PNAS identifies a new pathway for the intracellular delivery of the radioactive toxic metal ions, and thus a possible new target for treatment strategies. The scientists used cultured kidney cells to demonstrate the role of siderocalin in facilitating the uptake of the metal ions in cells.


“We showed that this protein is capable of transporting plutonium inside cells,” she said. “So this could help us develop other strategies to counteract actinide exposure. Instead of binding and expelling radionuclides from the body, we could maybe block the uptake.”


This work shows how we can use accelerators to better elucidate how radioactive materials interact with the body.  It also points a way forward towards new treatment modalities for situations like the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko (shown below) in November, 2006.

As Accelerator Health Physicists; we are predominately dedicated to achieving ALARA exposures for all our workers.  We should also be mindful of stepping out of our comfort zone to embrace new ideas; novel technologies and be well aware of some of the great milestones that are being achieved through research in our own facilities.  Personally; I think it would be amazing to present work that is being conducted in and around our accelerator facilities and to focus on some of the Health Physics challenges towards meeting those research goals in a safe manner.

Greetings from the CAMD synchrotron facility.

Lorraine Day, PhD


The Past President’s Message

Steve Frey


The Summer of Science


Hi friends and colleagues, and welcome to our new Section officers in their first full quarter of service.


We are a most fortunate bunch, aren’t we? You as our Section members are involved in cutting-edge science. Equally as important, by your radiation safety contributions supporting accelerators in research and medicine, we have become a dynamic instrument helping to promote science for the benefit of all.


That reality may not always be readily apparent as we go through our daily activities as professionals. But it is true! Thanks to you, accelerators overall have enjoyed excellent success in avoiding radiation accidents. The resulting confidence that these amazing science-producing and life-saving machines can be operated in a radiologically safe manner is well justified. Well done, all! You have much in which to take pride.


And, what a summer we’ve had, filled with advancements in accelerator-related science we’ve seen worldwide this season.  Featuring surprises and intrigue, they prove that particle and photon physics are alive and well, and promise continued great opportunities for our profession. Here are some of the most fascinating developments…


-  Problematic Particles: the production of tau particles arising from decay of b-mesons has been found to exceed expectations. The Standard Model suggests that when b‑mesons decay, they should produce, among other things, equal amounts of electrons, muons, and taus. Well, apparently, they don’t! It turns out that taus dominate. This finding suggests that the Standard Model may need to have the physics associated with its bottom row, which contains these leptons (see Standard Model illustration below), modified to explain why (see Large Hadron Collider Finds Particles That Defy The Standard Model Of Physics  and 2 Accelerators Find Particles That May Break Known Laws of Physics).



-  Partnered Photons: It appears that two photons can be made to link together and form a sort of ‘metaphysical molecule’. If so, perhaps they could be used to advance electronics and optical devices in new and wonderful ways. First, though, the force that holds such photon molecules together (shown as the blue bar joining the photons in the below illustration) will need to be identified and understood. Sounds like a perfect task for accelerators! (see NIST Scientists show ‘molecules’ made of light may be possible).



-  Fat-free Fermions: A seemingly contradictory type of fermion first predicted in 1929 is now reported to have been discovered. This fermion, known as a Weyl Fermion, has no mass, unlike other fermions. Princeton scientists who recently confirmed its existence note that Weyl Fermions can transfer electric charges a thousand times faster than electrons. Imagine the revolution in electronics that might result! Like for ‘Problematic Particles’ and ‘Partnered Photons” discussed above, further characterizing Weyl Fermions sound like a perfect opportunity for our accelerator community, too (see Big News, Physicists have finally discovered massless particles and they could revolutionize electronics).


There’s more cool science! As dark‑matter‑particle‑candidate research expands, a better characterizing of the neutrino background is becoming more important to keep its influence from obscuring detection of dark matter particles (i.e., axions, weakly‑interacting massive particles, etc.).  What better place can there be to create a controlled neutrino background for such study than in accelerators? (See “Hitting the Neutrino Floor” in Symmetry, 09/17/2015).


As evidenced above and with other new discoveries, seeming contradictions to established particle and photon physics are being observed more and more. How can this be?


One erstwhile preposterous possibility may provide the answer: multiverses. That is, the contradictions that we observe may be due to fleeting influences from other universes intruding into our own. It sounds bizarre, but the possibility of multiverses is now gaining serious interest in astrophysics and cosmology, and maybe soon for study via accelerators. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in that research! Here’s a terrific five‑minute narrated video from NOVA PBS on the latest scientific thoughts about multiverses; click either on the below link or illustration.


4 Multiverses You Might Be Living In



Advancing humanity’s understanding of all of these scientific developments will need accelerators, and accelerator health physicists to help ensure safety in the process. Plus, the realm of medical accelerators will continue to need us, too.  This Summer of Science has produced new blessings for our field.


We truly are in the most amazing days of accelerator science and accelerator health physics.


Happy Autumn!




Elaine Marshall,
Sandia National Laboratories


Lorraine Day,
CAMD Louisiana State University


Past President:

Steve Frey,



Linnea Wahl,


Newsletter Editor:

Patrick Bragg,
Idaho National Laboratory



Don Cossairt (2016), 
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory


Reginald Ronningen (2016), National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory


Matt Quinn (2018)
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

•  Accelerator Section Website

•  HPS Website

From The Secretary/Treasurer:
Linnea Wahl

September begins the new Health Physics Society (HPS) fiscal year, so it seems like a good time to discuss the Accelerator Section’s finances. The following information was prepared for the 60th Annual Meeting of the HPS in Indianapolis and was presented by Accelerator Section President Steve Frey (now past president) at the HPS Accelerator Section Business Meeting, held in Indianapolis on 14 July 2015.


We began the fiscal year on 1 September 2014 with a balance of $9962.25. From September 2014 through May 2015, we received $770.00 in dues. Our expenses during that time totaled $377.00: $300.00 donated to the very successful HPS Science Camp held in Indianapolis and $77.00 for the Secretariat’s management fees (10% of dues income). Thus our balance at the end of May 2015 (the latest figures available for the July section business meeting) was $10,355.25. Since May 2015, our expenses have included the 2015 student award costs: $114.43 for plaques and $300 for award checks. So the section continues to be financially secure.


But what about our membership numbers? I wish I could say that our membership had increased. As of July 2015, then-President Frey reported that our section had 174 members. This total is nearly the same as in the previous year, being only three less. While we are not gaining members, neither are we losing significant support.


Still we could do better. Do you know a colleague who is not a member of the Society or who could benefit from joining the section? Encourage them to join us. Both HPS and the section will be better for their participation. And you may benefit too—the 2015 Member-Get-A-Member Campaign is about to begin and it offers very attractive incentives to those who bring in new members. Watch the October issue of Health Physics News for details.


As always, if you have any questions about the section’s finances, please let me know ( and I’ll find the answers.




Scott Schwahn, PhD, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

I happened to see this article recently that had several references to where I work, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I found it to be a fascinating description of the possibility for “islands of stability” for elements with very high atomic numbers that have not even been created yet. Featured throughout this article are many of the accelerator facilities throughout the world, along with other types of nuclear facilities. I found myself fascinated at the technology and the possibilities for discovery. I hope that you will, too.

Follow the link below to view this fascinating article:

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