Sequential extraction procedure for determination of uranium, thorium, radium, lead and polonium radionuclides by alpha spectrometry in environmental samples

  • J. M. Oliveira
  • F. P. Carvalho


A sequential extraction technique was developed and tested for common naturally-occurring radionuclides. This technique allows the extraction and purification of uranium, thorium, radium, lead, and polonium radionuclides from the same sample. Environmental materials such as water, soil, and biological samples can be analyzed for those radionuclides without matrix interferences in the quality of radioelement purification and in the radiochemical yield. The use of isotopic tracers (232U, 229Th, 224Ra, 209Po, and stable lead carrier) added to the sample in the beginning of the chemical procedure, enables an accurate control of the radiochemical yield for each radioelement. The ion extraction procedure, applied after either complete dissolution of the solid sample with mineral acids or co-precipitation of dissolved radionuclide with MnO2 for aqueous samples, includes the use of commercially available pre-packed columns from Eichrom® and ion exchange columns packed with Bio-Rad resins, in altogether three chromatography columns. All radioactive elements but one are purified and electroplated on stainless steel discs. Polonium is spontaneously plated on a silver disc. The discs are measured using high resolution silicon surface barrier detectors. 210Pb, a beta emitter, can be measured either through the beta emission of 210Bi, or stored for a few months and determined by alpha spectrometry through the in-growth of 210Po. This sequential extraction chromatography technique was tested and validated with the analysis of certified reference materials from the IAEA. Reproducibility was tested through repeated analysis of the same homogeneous material (water sample).


210Pb Thorium Sequential Extraction Procedure Radiochemical Yield Alpha Spectrometry 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Oliveira
    • 1
  • F. P. Carvalho
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Protecção Radiológica e Segurança NuclearInstituto Tecnológico e NuclearSacavémPortugal

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