Rapid method to determine 226Ra in steel samples
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The rapid measurement of 226Ra in steel samples is very important in the event of a radiological emergency. 226Ra (T 1/2 = 1600 y) is a natural radionuclide present in the environment and a highly toxic alpha-emitter. Due to its long life and tendency to concentrate in bones, 226Ra ingestion or inhalation can lead to significant committed dose to individuals. A new method for the determination of 226Ra in steel samples has been developed at the Savannah River Environmental Laboratory. The new method employs a rugged acid digestion method that includes hydrofluoric acid, followed by a single precipitation step to rapidly preconcentrate the radium and remove most of the dissolved steel sample matrix. Radium is then separated using a combination of cation exchange and extraction chromatography, and 226Ra is measured by alpha spectrometry. This approach has a sample preparation time of ~ 8 h for steel samples, has a very high tracer yield (> 88%), and removes interferences effectively. A 133Ba yield tracer is used so that samples can be counted immediately following the separation method, avoiding lengthy ingrowth times that are required in other methods.
KeywordsRapid method Digestion Decommissioning Steel 226Ra Emergency
This work was performed under the auspices of the Department of Energy, DOE Contract No. DE-AC09-08SR22470. The authors wish to acknowledge Becky Chavous and Dale Duke for their assistance with this work.
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