Journal Article Rapid determination of ultra-trace plutonium isotopes (239Pu, 240Pu and 241Pu) in small volume human urine bioassay using sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry

Ni, Youyi  ,  Zheng, Jian  ,  Guo, Qiuju  ,  Men, Wu  ,  Tagami, Keiko  ,  Uchida, Shigeo

A rapid method with enhanced 238U decontamination was developed for ultra-trace Pu analysis in small-volume urine bioassays for preparedness in radiological emergencies and for screening of unexpected occupational exposures. This method consists of acid digestion, co-precipitation, extraction chromatography and sector-field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SF-ICP-MS) measurement. Parameters that may influence the analytical performance were studied systematically. This method achieved a high 238U decontamination factor (3.8×106) and the 242Pu recovery was stable for 20 mL and 100 mL urine bioassays with an average value of 72.7±5.5 %. The limits of detection for 239Pu, 240Pu and 241Pu by the method were 0.016 fg/mL, 0.016 fg/mL and 0.019 fg/mL for 20 mL urine samples and 0.003 fg/mL, 0.002 fg/mL and 0.003 fg/mL for 100 mL urine samples, respectively. Considering the small volume of urine employed in this study, the absolute detection limits of the method were comparable or even better than those measured with thermal ionization mass spectrometry and accelerator mass spectrometry. All procedures for 20 mL and 100 mL urine bioassays were completed in 9.5 h and 11 h, respectively. With appropriate arrangement of time, analysis of 10 samples could be finished within one day.

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