A new radioanalytical method was developed for rapid determination of 226Ra in drinking water samples. The method is based on extraction and preconcentration of 226Ra from a water sample to an organic solvent using a dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction (DLLME) technique followed by radiometric measurement using liquid scintillation counting. In DLLME for 226Ra, a mixture of an organic extractant (toluene doped with dibenzo-21-crown-7 and 2-theonyltrifluoroacetone) and a disperser solvent (acetonitrile) is rapidly injected into the water sample resulting in the formation of an emulsion. Within the emulsion, 226Ra reacts with dibenzo-21-crown-7 and 2-theonyltrifluoroacetone and partitions into the fine droplets of toluene. The water/toluene phases were separated by addition of acetonitrile as a de-emulsifier solvent. The toluene phase containing 226Ra was then measured by liquid scintillation counting. Several parameters were studied to optimize the extraction efficiency of 226Ra, including water immiscible organic solvent, disperser and de-emulsifier solvent type and their volume, chelating ligands for 226Ra and their concentrations, inorganic salt additive and its concentration, and equilibrium pH. With the optimized DLLME conditions, the accuracy (expressed as relative bias, Br) and method repeatability (expressed as relative precision, SB) were determined by spiking 226Ra at the maximum acceptable concentration level (0.5 Bq L−1) according to the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. Accuracy and repeatability were found to be less than −5% (Br) and less than 6% (SB), respectively, for both tap water and bottled natural spring water samples. The minimum detectable activity and sample turnaround time for determination of 226Ra was 33 mBq L−1 and less than 3 h, respectively. The DLLME technique is selective for extraction of 226Ra from its decay progenies.
Radium-226 DLLME Rapid method Drinking water Liquid scintillation counting
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