Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Human exposure to α-particles from radon and other radionuclides is associated with carcinogenesis, but if well controlled and targeted to cancer cells, α-particles may be used in radiotherapy. Thus, it is important to understand the biological effects of α-particles to predict cancer risk and optimise radiotherapy. To enable studies of α-particles in cells, we developed and characterised an α-particle automated irradiation rig that allows exposures at a shallow angle (70° to the normal) of cell monolayers in a 30 mm diameter dish to complement standard perpendicular irradiations. The measured incident energy of the α-particles was 3.3 ± 0.5 MeV (LET in water = 120 keV μm-1), with a maximum incident dose rate of 1.28 ± 0.02 Gy min-1, which for a 5 μm cell monolayer corresponds to a mean dose rate of 1.57 ± 0.02 Gy min-1 and a mean LET in water of 154 keV μm-1. The feasibility of resolving radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) foci along the track of α-particles was demonstrated using immunofluorescent labelling with γH2AX and 53BP1 in normal MRC-5 human lung cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Radiat Prot Dosimetry

Publication Date





264 - 269


Alpha Particles, Cells, Cultured, DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded, Equipment Design, Humans, Linear Energy Transfer, Lung, Radiobiology