Simultaneous determination of Pu and Am radioisotopes in environmental samples: a tool for determining origin and release date


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Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
Simultaneous determination of Pu and Am radioisotopes in environmental samples: a tool for determining origin and release date
Title of the conference
11th International Symposium on Environmental Radiochemical Analysis
Corcho Alvarado J.A., Froidevaux P.
Radiochemistry Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Chester, 15 - 17 September 2010
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Issued date
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). 
A radiochemical procedure was developed for the sequential determination of Pu and Am radioisotopes in environmental samples. The radioisotope activities were then used to assess the origin and release date of the environmental plutonium. The radioanalytical procedure is based on the separation of Pu and Am on selective extraction chromatographic resins (Eichrom TEVA and DGA). Alpha sources were prepared by electrodeposition on stainless steel discs, and the alpha emitting radionuclides (238Pu, 239,240Pu and 241Am) were measured by alpha spectrometry. For the determination of the beta emitting 241Pu, the Pu alpha source was leached in hot concentrated nitric acid and the Pu fraction further purified by extraction chromatography on a small column of TEVA resin (100 μg of resin in a pipette tip). 241Pu is then measured by ultra low level liquid scintillation counting. Due to the lack of reference material for 241Pu, the proposed radiochemical method was nevertheless validated using four IAEA reference sediments with information values of 241Pu.
The proposed method was then used to determine the 238Pu, 239,240Pu, 241Pu and 241Am activity concentrations in alpine soils of France and Switzerland. The soil is the primary receptor of the atmospheric radioactive fallout and, because of the strong binding interaction with soils particles, the isotopes are little fractionated. Therefore, the activity ratios 241Pu/239+240Pu and 238Pu/239,240Pu in soil samples were used to determine the origin (source) and date of the Pu contamination in the investigated alpine sites. The 241Pu/239,240Pu and 238Pu/239,240Pu activity ratios confirmed that the main origin of Pu in the alpine soils was the global fallout from the nuclear bomb tests (NBT) in the fifties and sixties. Furthermore, the 241Pu/241Am activity ratios were used to determine the age of the Pu contamination, which is also an important data for distinguishing the Pu sources. The estimation of the date of the contamination, by the 241Pu/241Am age-dating method, further confirmed the NBT as the Pu source. However, the 241Pu/241Am dating method was limited to samples where Pu-Am fractionation was insignificant. If any, the contribution of the Chernobyl accident in the studied sites is negligible.
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21/09/2010 13:49
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20/08/2019 15:16
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