Category Archives: Radionuclides

Analysis of polonium, plutonium, americium and uranium in drinking water

Lemons, B.; Khaing, H.; Ward, A.; Thakur, P. A rapid method for the sequential separation of polonium, plutonium, americium and uranium in drinking water. Applied Radiation and Isotopes June 2018 136:10-17

A new sequential separation method for the determination of polonium and actinides (Pu, Am and U) in drinking water samples has been developed that can be used for emergency response or routine water analyses. For the first time, the application of TEVA chromatography column in the sequential separation of polonium and plutonium has been studied. This method utilizes a rapid Fe+3 co-precipitation step to remove matrix interferences, followed by plutonium oxidation state adjustment to Pu4+ and an incubation period of ~ 1 h at 50–60 °C to allow Po2+ to oxidize to Po4+. The polonium and plutonium were then separated on a TEVA column, while separation of americium from uranium was performed on a TRU column. After separation, polonium was micro-precipitated with copper sulfide (CuS), while actinides were micro co-precipitated using neodymium fluoride (NdF3) for counting by the alpha spectrometry. The method is simple, robust and can be performed quickly with excellent removal of interferences, high chemical recovery and very good alpha peak resolution. The efficiency and reliability of the procedures were tested by using spiked samples. The effect of several transition metals (Cu2+, Pb2+, Fe3+, Fe2+, and Ni2+) on the performance of this method were also assessed to evaluate the potential matrix effects. Studies indicate that presence of up to 25 mg of these cations in the samples had no adverse effect on the recovery or the resolution of polonium alpha peaks.

Assessment of Water Treatment for Radium Removal and NORM Formation, Estonia

Hill L, Suursoo S, Kiisk M, Jantsikene A, Nilb N, Munter R, Realo E, Koch R, Putk K, Leier M, Vaasma T, Isakar K. Long-term monitoring of water treatment technology designed for radium removal-removal efficiencies and NORM formation. J Radiol Prot. 2017 Dec 6;38(1):1-24. doi: 10.1088/1361-6498/aa97f2.

A drinking water treatment plant in Viimsi, Estonia, was monitored over three years for iron, manganese, radium-226, radium-228, as well as their daughter nuclides, in order to determine the efficiency of the treatment process, gain an insight into the removal mechanisms and interactions between radium, iron, and manganese, and assess the overall longevity and performance of the technology along with the possible build-up of NORM in the treatment process. During the study, samples were collected from raw water, first and second stage filtrate, consumer water, backwash water and filter materials. The results show consistent removal efficiency for iron and manganese, as well as an average of over 85% removal for radium with a slight decline over time. The backwash process has been optimised for maximum radium removal from the filters, while keeping concentrations in the backwash water below exemption levels. However, the accumulation of radium and thorium occurs in the filter material, exceeding exemption levels in the top layer of the filter columns in less than a year. By the end of the observation period, activity concentrations in the top layer of the columns were above 30 000 Bq kg-1 for Ra-226 and Ra-228, and around 15 000 Bq kg-1 for Th-228. Radionuclides are not homogenously distributed in the filter columns. In order to estimate the average activity concentrations in the filter media, the height distribution of radionuclides has to be accounted for. Two years and two months after commissioning the treatment plant, the average activity concentrations of Ra isotopes in the filter columns were in the range 10 000 Bq kg-1, while Th-228 activity concentration was roughly 3500 Bq kg-1.

Radiocesium in Cistern Waters, Croatian Coast

Franic Z, Marovic G, Petrinec B, Branica G. Post-Chernobyl Investigations of Radiocesium Activity Concentrations in Cistern Waters along the Croatian Coast of the Adriatic Sea. Health physics. 2017 Sep;113(3):167-174. doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000685.

The results of long-term investigations into the post-Chernobyl period of radiocesium activity concentrations in cistern waters along the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea are presented. The Cs activity concentrations in cistern water samples were in excellent correlation with fallout activities. The observed mean residence time of Cs in cistern waters was estimated to be 6.9 ± 0.8 y. Cesium-137 radioecological sensitivity for the period 1988-1997 for cistern water was estimated to be 1.17 × 10 Bq y L/(Bq m). The annual total effective dose incurred by Cs and Cs that a hypothetical adult person drinking 1 L of cistern water per day would receive was estimated to be < 1 mSv in 1986, decreasing to 3.6 μSv in 2015.

Protective Action and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents



Oxidatively Modified Carbon (OMC) Removes Radioactive Elements

Artur Khannanov, Vadim V. Nekljudov, Airat Kiiamov, Ayrat M. Dimiev. Oxidatively modified carbon as efficient material for removing radionuclides from water. Carbon, Volume 115, May 2017, Pages 394–401

There is a constant need to develop advantageous materials for removing radioactive waste from aqueous systems. Here we propose a new carbon-based material prepared by oxidative treatment of various natural carbon sources. The as-prepared oxidatively modified carbon (OMC) has an oxygen-rich surface, and retains its particulate granular texture. It has relatively low cost and can be used in traditional filtration columns. The sorption ability of OMC toward several metal cations is demonstrated. It is especially efficient toward Cs+ cations, the species that are among the most difficult to remove from the waters at the Fukushima nuclear plant. 

Ground water transport model requires independent validation

Ground water transport models are relatively easy to develop if enough assumptions are made. Validation is needed before the output of any model is applied. Also, Pb-210 is a decay produce of radon and will be present in any water from an aquifer containing radium-226 or other radionuclides in its decay chain. This model must assume secular equilibrium.

Torres L, Yadav OP, Khan E. Holistic risk assessment of surface water contamination due to Pb-210 in oil produced water from the Bakken Shale. Chemosphere 2016 Nov 29;169:627-635. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.11.125.

A holistic risk assessment of surface water (SW) contamination due to lead-210 (Pb-210) in oil produced water (PW) from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota (ND) was conducted. Pb-210 is a relatively long-lived radionuclide and very mobile in water. Because of limited data on Pb-210, a simulation model was developed to determine its concentration based on its parent radium-226 and historical total dissolved solids levels in PW. Scenarios where PW spills could reach SW were analyzed by applying the four steps of the risk assessment process. These scenarios are: (1) storage tank overflow, (2) leakage in equipment, and (3) spills related to trucks used to transport PW. Furthermore, a survey was conducted in ND to quantify the risk perception of PW from different stakeholders. Findings from the study include a low probability of a PW spill reaching SW and simulated concentration of Pb-210 in drinking water higher than the recommended value established by the World Health Organization. Also, after including the results from the risk perception survey, the assessment indicates that the risk of contamination of the three scenarios evaluated is between medium-high to high.

Uranium Exposure from Drinking Water, Rajasthan, India

Jakhu R, Mehra R, Mittal HM. Exposure assessment of natural uranium from drinking water. Environmental Science: Process Impacts. Nov 2016 

The uranium concentration in the drinking water of the residents of the Jaipur and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan has been measured for exposure assessment. The daily intake of uranium from the drinking water for the residents of the study area is found to vary from 0.4 to 123.9 μg per day. For the average uranium ingestion rate of 35.2 μg per day for a long term exposure period of 60 years, estimations have been made for the retention of uranium in different body organs and its excretion with time using ICRP’s biokinetic model of uranium. Radioactive and chemical toxicity of uranium has been reported and discussed in detail in the present manuscript.