, Volume 281, Issue 3, pp 425-432
Date: 17 Jun 2009

A new method for the determination of plutonium and americium using high pressure microwave digestion and alpha-spectrometry or ICP-SMS

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Abstract

Plutonium and americium are radionuclides particularly difficult to measure in environmental samples because they are α-emitters and therefore necessitate a careful separation before any measurement, either using radiometric methods or ICP-SMS. Recent developments in extraction chromatography resins such as Eichrom® TRU and TEVA have resolved many of the analytical problems but drawbacks such as low recovery and spectral interferences still occasionally occur. Here, we report on the use of the new Eichrom® DGA resin in association with TEVA resin and high pressure microwave acid leaching for the sequential determination of plutonium and americium in environmental samples. The method results in average recoveries of 83 ± 15% for plutonium and 73 ± 22% for americium (n = 60), and a less than 10% deviation from reference values of four IAEA reference materials and three samples from intercomparisons exercises. The method is also suitable for measuring 239Pu in water samples at the μBq/l level, if ICP-SMS is used for the measurement.