A study has been carried out of the uptake of uranium and other radionuclides by plants growing on abandoned tailings from an uranium mining operation. Assay methods included instrumental neutron activation analysis, delayed neutron counting, fission track imaging, and counting of natural radioactivity. Care was taken to avoid contamination of the plant material and a number of methods are described to identify such contamination. All plants observed showed high uptake of radionuclides, compared to plants studied from naturally uraniferous and control areas. Graminoid (grass-like) plants showed significant uptake in the above-ground parts while woody plants showed exceedingly high uranium accumulation in the root portions. These results have significance in determination of the spread of radioactive material from such sites.
Authors:L. Stephens-Newsham, M. Duke, T. Overton, and D. Ng
Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) was carried out on hair samples from a group of twenty patients undergoing a study of osteoporosis. Half of these were judged normal. Fourteen elements were measured but only calcium was found to have a correlation with the disease state. Calcium levels in hair were significantly lower (99% confidence level) in patients with osteoporosis. Conversely, calcium levels in the blood of osteoporotic patients were significantly higher (95% confidence level) than those in normals. Though the group studied was small it is felt that the levels of calcium in hair may be of value in diagnosing osteoporosis.
Authors:T. Sykes, L. Stephens-Newsham, M. Apps, and A. Noujaim
Compounds of both gold and platinum are used in medicine, the former as salts to treat arthritides and the latter as the metal
complex cisplatin to treat cancer. We have investigated neutron activation analysis with the Slowpoke II reactor as an assay
method for both elements using human blood plasma as a matrix. Neutron activation of platinum gives rise to 3.15 day199Au while that of gold produces 2.7 day198Au. Activated samples are dissolved during heating in test tubes and the gold extracted by adding dibutyl sulphide to the
same tube. The latter is formed to able to quantitate Pt down to 60 ng and Au down to 60 pg. The dissolution technique and
possible interferences in the assay are discussed.
Authors:N. Spyrou, Ch. Adesanmi, M. Kidd, L. Stephens-Newsham, A. Ortaoval, and F. Ozek
A new cyclic activation system (CAS) has recently been installed at the University of London Reactor and is briefly described.
It has the unique feature that it allows choice as to whether irradiations are to be carried out under cadmium or in a bare
tube and thus both epithermal and thermal cyclic activation analysis can be performed. Measurements in this work, have been
carried out using a Ge(Li) detector but the facility allows other detectors to be used and an additional return line from
the central distributive mechanism of the system (not yet installed) will allow samples to be cycled to and from a neutron
detector thus providing the possibility of measuring radionuclides emitting delayed neutrons. By way of illustration of the
theory of cyclic activation analysis, since the paper is to serve as an introduction to other papers in the conference using
the technique, the results of a calculation for the detection of uranium under thermal and epithermal conditions are presented
and compared to conventional activation. The usefulness of cyclic neutron activation analysis (CNAA) is also demonstrated
in cases where identification of an isotope through its gamma-ray energy alone is not sufficient and conformation is achieved
through determination of the half-life of the activity of interest, without resort to further experimental work or additional
instrumentation. This leads on the thorny problem as to whether Poisson statistics should continue to be used in cases where
the period of observation is of the same order as the decay constant of the activity of interest and it is pointed out how
CNAA can be employed to extract the information required if a binomial-type statistical density function is used. Finally
in order to prove the system and the cyclic method and as a preliminary to a larger project, prepared single element standards
and standard reference materials [NBS Orchard Leaves, NBS Bovine Liver, IAEA Animal Blood, IAEA Hair standard and Bowen's
Kale] are analysed under the two cyclic irradiation conditions. Sensitivities and cadmium ratios are obtained for the twelve
elements from the elemental standards (Na, Al, Sc, Ge, Se, Rh, Pd, Ag, Ce, Er, Hf and Pb) and detection limits for a number
of elements of interest presented for the standard reference materials.