Rapid fusion method for determination of plutonium isotopes in large rice samples
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A new rapid fusion method for the determination of plutonium in large rice samples has been developed at the Savannah River National Laboratory (Aiken, SC, USA) that can be used to determine very low levels of plutonium isotopes in rice. The recent accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in March, 2011 reinforces the need to have rapid, reliable radiochemical analyses for radionuclides in environmental and food samples. Public concern regarding foods, particularly foods such as rice in Japan, highlights the need for analytical techniques that will allow very large sample aliquots of rice to be used for analysis so that very low levels of plutonium isotopes may be detected. The new method to determine plutonium isotopes in large rice samples utilizes a furnace ashing step, a rapid sodium hydroxide fusion method, a lanthanum fluoride matrix removal step, and a column separation process with TEVA Resin™ cartridges. The method can be applied to rice sample aliquots as large as 5 kg. Plutonium isotopes can be determined using alpha spectrometry or inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The method showed high chemical recoveries and effective removal of interferences. The rapid fusion technique is a rugged sample digestion method that ensures that any refractory plutonium particles are effectively digested. The MDA for a 5 kg rice sample using alpha spectrometry is 7 × 10−5 mBq g−1. The method can easily be adapted for use by ICP-MS to allow detection of plutonium isotopic ratios.
KeywordsRapid Separation Plutonium Isotopes Food Rice Emergency
This work was performed under the auspices of the Department of Energy, DOE Contract No. DE-AC09-96SR18500. The authors wish to acknowledge Staci Britt, Jack Herrington and Becky Chavous for their assistance with this work.
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