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Health Phys. 2011 Aug;101(2):180-6. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3182170648.

Rapid determination of (237)Np and plutonium isotopes in urine by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry and alpha spectrometry.

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  • 1Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Aiken, SC 29808, USA.


A new rapid separation method was developed for the measurement of plutonium and neptunium in urine samples by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and/or alpha spectrometry with enhanced uranium removal. This method allows separation and preconcentration of plutonium and neptunium in urine samples using stacked extraction chromatography cartridges and vacuum box flow rates to facilitate rapid separations. There is an increasing need to develop faster analytical methods for emergency response samples. There is also enormous benefit to having rapid bioassay methods in the event that a nuclear worker has an uptake (puncture wound, etc.) to assess the magnitude of the uptake and guide efforts to mitigate dose (e.g., tissue excision and chelation therapy). This new method focuses only on the rapid separation of plutonium and neptunium with enhanced removal of uranium. For ICP-MS, purified solutions must have low salt content and low concentration of uranium due to spectral interference of (238)U(1)H(+) on m/z 239. Uranium removal using this method is enhanced by loading plutonium and neptunium initially onto TEVA resin, then moving plutonium to DGA resin where additional purification from uranium is performed with a decontamination factor of almost 1×10(5). If UTEVA resin is added to the separation scheme, a decontamination factor of ~3 × 10(6) can be achieved.

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