The damage done to living tissue by radiation varies with both the type of radiation to which tissue is exposed and the energy associated with the radiation. The conversion factor used to change absorbed dose into dose equivalent is Q, the quality factor, which is derived thus: Those types of radiation which deposit their energy in small areas of living tissue are more likely to cause biological damage than those types of radiation that deposit their energy over a broader area, as the body can repair damage more easily if many cells are slightly damaged than if a few, concentrated cells are extensively damaged. Therefore, types of radiation which deposit their energies in concentrated areas have high quality factors, while types of radiation which deposit their energies in broad areas have low quality factors. This is measured as linear energy transfer, LET, the energy deposited per unit distance traveled by a particle. The quality factors for common types of radiation are:
Neutrons (unknown energy) 10.00
Thermal Neutrons 2.00
Fast Neutrons 11.00
High Energy Protons 10.00
Multiplying absorbed dose measured in rads by the quality factor gives the deep dose equivalent, measured in rem. Note that this means that for X-rays, Gamma rays and beta particles, 1 R = 1 rad = 1 rem.
source: chapter 10, part 20, code of federal regulations, 20.1004.