(3)He mass spectrometry for very low-level measurement of organic tritium in environmental samples.
ABSTRACT The design, setup and performance of a mass spectrometric system for the analysis of low to very low-level tritium in environmental samples are described. The tritium concentration is measured indirectly by the (3)He ingrowth from radioactive decay after complete initial degassing of the sample. The analytical system is fully computer-controlled and consists in a commercial helium isotope mass spectrometer coupled with a high vacuum inlet system. A detection limit of 0.15 Bq/kg is routinely obtainable for sample sizes of 20g of water equivalent and an accumulation time of three months. Larger samples (and/or longer accumulation time) can be used to obtain lower detection limits. In addition to the benefit of a lower detection limit, another advantage of this non-destructive method lies in the simplicity of the analytical procedure which strongly limits the risk of contamination. An inter-comparison was successfully performed with the conventional beta counting technique on lyophilized grass samples, in a range of tritium concentrations of environmental interest. It shows that the (3)He mass spectrometry method yields results that are fully consistent with the conventional liquid scintillation technique over a wide range of tritium concentrations.
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ABSTRACT: Isotopic fractionation of tritium is a highly relevant issue in radiation protection and requires certain radioecological considerations. Sound evaluation of this factor is indeed necessary to determine whether environmental compartments are enriched/depleted in tritium or if tritium is, on the contrary, isotopically well-distributed in a given system. The ubiquity of tritium and the standard analytical methods used to assay it may induce biases in both the measurement and the signification that is accorded to the so-called fractionation: based on an exhaustive review of the literature, we show how, sometimes large deviations may appear. It is shown that when comparing the non-exchangeable fraction of organically bound tritium (neOBT) to another fraction of tritium (e.g. tritiated water) the preparation of samples and the measurement of neOBT reported frequently led to underestimation of the ratio of tritium to hydrogen (T/H) in the non-exchangeable compartment by a factor of 5% to 50%. In the present study, corrections are proposed for most of the biological matrices studied so far. Nevertheless, the values of isotopic fractionation reported in the literature remain difficult to compare with each other, especially since the physical quantities and units often vary between authors. Some improvements are proposed to better define what should encompass the concepts of exchangeable and non-exchangeable fractions.Environment international 04/2014; 65:116-126. · 6.25 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The (3)He ingrowth technique is based on the detection of the tritium radioactive daughter, (3)He, by mass spectrometry. Over the last three decades it has been used extensively in oceanography and groundwater studies for measurements of very low to ultra-low levels of tritium. To compare it with the best available methods of radioactive counting, we applied this method to measure the massic activity of a tritiated-water primary standard prepared by the French Laboratoire National Henri Becquerel (LNHB). One liter of a low-level tritium solution was prepared from a small aliquot of the LNHB standard by two-step gravimetric dilution with tritium-free groundwater. Sixteen samples of this solution were analyzed at the LSCE-Saclay noble gas facility, using the (3)He ingrowth method. The massic activity of the prepared solution was also measured by Liquid Scintillation Counting using the Quantulus LNHB counter and an internal calibration method with the LNHB tritiated water standard. All results agree within their standard uncertainty.Applied radiation and isotopes: including data, instrumentation and methods for use in agriculture, industry and medicine 12/2013; · 1.09 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The measurement of organically bound tritium (OBT) in environmental samples is much more difficult than the measurement of tritiated water (HTO). This study describes an alternative method for OBT determination in plant materials in which tritium-free polyethylene beads are added to the plant sample prior to combustion in a combustion bomb. It is not always possible to collect large enough amounts of some plants (e.g. algae, plankton, grass) within a specific area or specific period. Excellent water recovery is achieved when dry plant materials are combusted with polyethylene beads. When Ultima Gold AB is used as the scintillation cocktail, it is possible to measure the combustion water directly without distillation. Correction factors were derived for the plants used in the study to account for the dilution of the combustion water due to addition of the polyethylene beads. The alternative method has a number of advantages, including an increased yield of combustion water for liquid scintillation counting, less color quenching, reduced sample size and decreased analysis time. Finally, accuracy tests comparing results of the conventional method with those of the alternative method were carried out using environmental samples.Applied radiation and isotopes: including data, instrumentation and methods for use in agriculture, industry and medicine 08/2013; 82C:175-180. · 1.09 Impact Factor