Distribution of neptunium and plutonium in New Mexico lichen samples (Usnea arizonica) contaminated by atmospheric fallout
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The concentrations of 237Np, 239Pu and 240Pu were determined in lichen samples (Usnea arizonica) that were collected from ten locations in New Mexico between 2011 and 2013 using isotope dilution inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ID-ICP-MS). The observed isotopic ratios for 237Np/239Pu and 240Pu/239Pu indicate trace contamination from global and regional fallout (e.g. Trinity test and atmospheric testing at the Nevada Test Site). The fact that actinide contamination is detected in recent lichen collections suggests continuous re-suspension of fallout radionuclides even 50 years after ratification of the Limited Test Ban Treaty.
Keywords237Np Plutonium isotopes Atmospheric fallout ICP-MS Lichen
This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Los Alamos National Laboratory under contract DE-AC52-06NA25396. We thank the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program for financial support (Project No: 20120459ER). KBL is grateful to the Department of Homeland Security for financial support as a Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellow.
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