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Talanta. 2009 Nov 15;80(1):143-50. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2009.06.041. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

Rapid determination of actinides in urine by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and alpha spectrometry: a hybrid approach.

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Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC, Aiken, SC 29808, USA.


A new rapid separation method that allows separation and preconcentration of actinides in urine samples was developed for the measurement of longer lived actinides by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and short-lived actinides by alpha spectrometry; a hybrid approach. This method uses stacked extraction chromatography cartridges and vacuum box technology to facilitate rapid separations. Preconcentration, if required, is performed using a streamlined calcium phosphate precipitation. Similar technology has been applied to separate actinides prior to measurement by alpha spectrometry, but this new method has been developed with elution reagents now compatible with ICP-MS as well. Purified solutions are split between ICP-MS and alpha spectrometry so that long- and short-lived actinide isotopes can be measured successfully. The method allows for simultaneous extraction of 24 samples (including QC samples) in less than 3h. Simultaneous sample preparation can offer significant time savings over sequential sample preparation. For example, sequential sample preparation of 24 samples taking just 15 min each requires 6h to complete. The simplicity and speed of this new method makes it attractive for radiological emergency response. If preconcentration is applied, the method is applicable to larger sample aliquots for occupational exposures as well. The chemical recoveries are typically greater than 90%, in contrast to other reported methods using flow injection separation techniques for urine samples where plutonium yields were 70-80%. This method allows measurement of both long-lived and short-lived actinide isotopes. (239)Pu, (242)Pu, (237)Np, (243)Am, (234)U, (235)U and (238)U were measured by ICP-MS, while (236)Pu, (238)Pu, (239)Pu, (241)Am, (243)Am and (244)Cm were measured by alpha spectrometry. The method can also be adapted so that the separation of uranium isotopes for assay is not required, if uranium assay by direct dilution of the urine sample is preferred instead. Multiple vacuum box locations may be set-up to supply several ICP-MS units with purified sample fractions such that a high sample throughput may be achieved, while still allowing for rapid measurement of short-lived actinides by alpha spectrometry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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