Do you use portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers for elemental analysis so you can identify metals and alloys? Do you wonder if they emit radiation and if they are safe? Do you need to take precautions?
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the chemical composition of materials. It is used extensively in the metal manufacturing, inspection and recycling industry. You might use it to identify the metal and alloys in a scrapyard, verify the content of your raw materials in your manufacturing plant, or check the gold content in a piece of jewelry.
XRF occurs when a fluorescent (or secondary) x-ray is emitted from a sample that is being excited by a primary x-ray source. See image below:
Because this fluorescence is unique to the elemental composition of the sample, XRF is an excellent technology for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the material composition.
During the analysis, the analyzer emits a directed radiation beam when the tube is energized (tube based instrument) or when the shutter is open (isotope based instrument). Reasonable effort should be made to maintain exposures to radiation as far below dose limits as is practical. This is known as the ALARA (As Low as Reasonably Achievable) principle. For any given source of radiation, three factors will help minimize your radiation exposure: time, distance, and shielding.
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. In a previous article we offered 7 Safety Tips When Using Portable XRF Analyzers.
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.
Want to know more about XRF and how it works… but you don’t want to delve into the details because you are not a scientist? Then download this free eBook – XRF in the Field: XRF Technology for the Non-Scientist .
XRF in the Field: XRF Technology for the Non-Scientist, written by an expert in X-ray fluorescence (XRF) techniques, explains the technology in an easy-to-understand manner.