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  • Author or Editor: B. Tracy x
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Abstract  

Re-suspension studies on soils contaminated with plutonium during nuclear weapons tests were performed by use of a mechanical dust-raising apparatus. Airborne dust was analyzed in terms of mass and241Am activities for particle sizes less than 7 m. The AMAD was determined as 4.8 to 6 m, for re-suspended soil. Also, surface soil was characterized in the laboratory by means of sieving and microparticle classification, yielding mass and241Am activity distributions with respect to size. Data indicate the granularity of plutonium contamination at both major and minor trial sites. Depth profile analyses for undisturbed, areas demonstrate that most (74% on average) of the americium and plutonium activity is found in the top 10 mm of soil. Plutonium and americium activities were found to be enhanced in the inhalable fraction over their values, in the total soil, and the enhancement factors were similar in re-suspended dust and surface soil. Observed enhancement factors ranged from 3.7 to 32.5.

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Abstract  

A quantitative method to determine the activity concentration of 226Ra in soil samples was established using high performance environmental gamma-ray spectrometry. In this method, a semi-empirical calibration procedure was developed for full energy peak efficiency calculation utilizing the elemental composition of the soil sample. Aatami software was used to deconvolute the 235U and 226Ra doublet at 185.7 keV and 186.2 keV, respectively, and to fit the baseline of the soil gamma-spectrum for the determination of 226Ra activity. The results indicated that the Aatami doublet deconvolution procedure provides a rapid and accurate analysis of a complicated spectrum in comparison with other cumbersome spectral interference correction methods. The study also compared the results with those obtained by radon progeny (214Pb, or 214Bi) measurements and found that the deconvolution method provided a more accurate 226Ra activity as it is independent of the error caused by radon diffusion. This error can be quite large since the amount of escaped radon gas through the sample container walls and sealing cannot be accurately quantified.

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Summary  

The advantages that accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) provide for radiocarbon analysis, notably smaller sample sizes and shorter measurement times, also apply to the analysis of 129I. In this paper, the requirements for a mass spectrometry system for measuring extremely low concentrations of rare atoms are discussed and these requirements are illustrated using the details of the AMS analysis of 129I. As an example of an application of this AMS technology, a series of 129I measurements, used to identify isolated events in which radioactivity has been atmospherically transported into the Arctic, is described. Such investigations could not be carried out without the small sample size capability of AMS analysis.

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