Warwick, P.E., Croudace, I.W. and Oh, J-S.
Radiochemical determination of 241Am and Pu(alpha) in environmental materials
Analytical Chemistry, 73, (14), . (doi:10.1021/ac001510e).
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Americium-241 and plutonium determinations will become of greater importance over the coming decades as 137Cs and 241Pu decay. The impact of 137Cs on environmental chronology has been great, but its potency is waning as it decays and diffuses. Having 241Am and Pu as unequivocal markers for the 1963 weapon fallout maximum is important for short time scale environmental work, but a fast and reliable procedure is required for their separation. The developed method described here begins by digesting samples using a lithium borate fusion although an aqua regia leachate is also effective in many instances. Isolation of the Am and Pu is then achieved using a combination of extraction chromatography and conventional anion exchange chromatography. The whole procedure has been optimized, validated, and assessed for safety. The straightforwardness of this technique permits the analysis of large numbers of samples and makes 241Am-based techniques for high-resolution sediment accumulation rate studies attractive. In addition, the technique can be employed for the sequential measurement of Pu and Am in environmental surveillance programs, potentially reducing analytical costs and turn-round times.
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