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J Environ Radioact. 2004;72(1-2):169-76.

Sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, another tool for plutonium isotopes and plutonium isotope ratios determination in environmental matrices.

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Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, Laboratoire de Mesure de la Radioactivité de l'Environnement, Bâtiment 501, Bois des rames, 91400 Orsay Cedex, France.


The transfer of radio nuclides into the different compartments of the environment are widely studied and leads to the elaboration of transfer models in order to evaluate potential impact onto the environment and humans. Accurate experimental data are needed to validate these models for all types of matrices (air, water, sediments, soils, biota and food...). Among these radionuclides, 238Pu, 239Pu, 240Pu and 241Pu, are often mentioned. They have been released into the environment by nuclear weapon tests, nuclear facilities, reactors or satellite accidents. These different sources have different 240Pu/239Pu ratios and therefore this ratio is used to provide information on the source of contamination into the environment. The most conventional analytical tools used for plutonium isotope determination are liquid scintillation and alpha spectrometry, and thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) is still considered as the primary method for determination of plutonium isotope ratios. During the last decade, mass spectrometers equipped with plasma ion sources and sector field analysers were developed and can offer now another alternative method for the accurate determination of isotope content and ratios of long-lived radionuclides in environmental samples. This paper presents and discusses the results obtained for 239Pu, 240Pu and 241Pu content and isotope ratios by sector field ICP-MS in different environmental matrices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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