If you rely on reliable elemental analysis for accurate grade ID in scrap metal recycling yards, to help ensure plant safety and product quality QA/QC with Positive Material Identification (PMI), to ascertain the value of the precious metals in jewelry, to confirm the metals and alloys in your fabrication and manufacturing business, or to check the welds and components along an oil and gas pipeline, you are familiar with portable XRF analyzers.
These instruments are small enough to be held in the hand or placed on a retail jewelry counter. They are invaluable to businesses because they are small enough to do real-time analysis on the floor and in the field. However, since a sample is irradiated with high energy x-rays from a controlled x-ray tube, some people have questioned their safety.
While the radiation emitted from a portable XRF analyzer is similar to the exposure received in a normal medical or dental x-ray, care must be taken to always point a handheld XRF analyzer directly at the sample and never at a person or a body part. However, radioactive material is considered a hazardous material (HAZMAT) for the purposes of transport. This means that the transportation of a portable XRF device containing radioactive sources is regulated. (You can learn more about X-Ray technology in this free ebook.)
We got a great question on this subject via one of our twitter accounts:
@thermofisher flying from SF to NY on Thursday. Wondering if Niton XRF Analyzers are allowed in check-in luggage on an airplane. #radiation
We answered the question on our Advancing Mining blog under the title Can Portable XRF Analyzers Be Transported by Airplane to Different Mine Sites?. Read the article to find out the details. Make sure you note that XRF analyzers may run on lithium ion batteries which are regulated in transport as a hazardous material. There are rules and best practices involving them in checked or carry-on luggage. They should also be individually wrapped (zip-lock bags for example) to prevent short circuits. In the article, we included:
- a link to the TSA guide to transporting lithium ion batteries on a passenger aircraft
- our recommendations for shipment
- considerations for both the radioactive material and the lithium ion batteries
- a link to Radiation Safety Training.
Access the article now.