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Determining Pu-241 in environmental samples: case studies in alpine soils
A procedure was developed for determining Pu-241 activity in environmental samples. This beta emitter isotope of plutonium was measured by ultra low level liquid scintillation, after several separation and purification steps that involved the use of a highly selective extraction chromatographic resin (Eichrom-TEVA). Due to the lack of reference material for Pu-241, the method was nevertheless validated using four IAEA reference sediments with information values for Pu-241. Next, the method was used to determine the Pu-241 activity in alpine soils of Switzerland and France. The Pu-241/Pu-239,Pu-240 and Pu-238/Pu-239,Pu-240 activity ratios confirmed that Pu contamination in the tested alpine soils originated mainly from global fallout from nuclear weapon tests conducted in the fifties and sixties. Estimation of the date of the contamination, using the Pu-241/Am-241 age-dating method, further confirmed this origin. However, the Pu-241/Am-241 dating method was limited to samples where Pu-Am fractionation was insignificant. If any, the contribution of the Chernobyl accident is negligible.
Pu-241, Pu-241/Pu-239,Pu-240, Alpine soils, Am-241/Pu-241 age dating, Plutonium origin, Plasma-Mass Spectrometry, Isotopic-Ratios, Forest Soil, Plutonium, Sediments, Radionuclides, Radioactivity, Migration, Elements, Cs-137
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