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Sector field Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, another tool for plutonium isotopes and plutonium isotope ratios determination in environmental matrices.

M. Agarande, S. Benzoubir, A-M. Neiva-Marques, P. Bouisset

In situ nuclear metrology as a tool for radioecology, Fleurus Belgium I.R.E. 10-12 June 2002
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 72, 169-176 (2004)


The transfer of radionuclides into the different components of the environment are widely studied and leads to the elaboration of transfer models in order to evaluate potential impact onto the environment and humans. Accurate experimental data are needed to validate these models for all types of matrices (air, water, sediments, soils, biota and food…). Among these radionuclides, 238, 239, 240, 241 plutonium isotopes, are often mentioned. They have been released into the environment by nuclear weapon tests, nuclear facilities, reactors or satellite accidents. These different sources have different 240/239 isotopic ratios and therefore this ratio is used to provide information on the source of contamination into the environment.
The most conventional analytical tools used for plutonium isotopes determination are liquid scintillation and alpha spectrometry and thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) is still considered as the primary method for determination of plutonium isotope ratios. During the last decade, mass spectrometers equipped with plasma ion sources and sector field analysers were developed and can offer now another alternative method for the accurate determination of isotope content and ratios of long live radionuclides in environmental samples.
This paper presents and discusses the results obtained for 239, 240 and 241 plutonium content and isotope ratios by sector field ICP-MS in different environmental matrices.


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