Brooks Applied Labs (BAL) recently developed a new method utilizing ion chromatography coupled to an ICP-MS for the quantification of radium (226Ra). This novel analytical approach can achieve detection limits low enough to provide meaningful data for natural water samples with low background radiation levels.
226Ra is a product of the 238U decay series and is the longest-lived isotope of radium, with a half-life of 1602 years. It is one of the most toxic natural radioelements, owing to its high specific activity of 1 pCi/pg, compared with that of 238U at 3 pCi/g. Determination of trace levels of 226Ra is usually carried out by radiometric methods (alpha spectrometry, gamma-ray spectrometry, liquid scintillation counting, etc.). These methods usually require significant sample preparation before analysis, either to preconcentrate 226Ra or to remove the interfering isotopes. In addition, lower detection limits usually require very large sample volumes (> 500 mL) as well as radiometric counting times in the order of days.
Inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry is usually not the first choice for this application, as the concentration of Ra in most samples (< 0.740 Bq/L) is less than the detection limit of most current ICP-MS systems. The new BAL method uses ion chromatography coupled to a Nexion 350D ICP-MS to achieve a 0.009 Bq/L detection limit. This method allows common interferences such as 88Sr138Ba+, 87Sr139La+, 86Sr140Ce+, 208Pb18O+, 186W40Ar+, 209Bi16O1H+, and 88Sr138Ba+ (as well as matrix ions such as Ca and Mg) to be chromatographically separated and requires only a 5-mL sample volume. The analytical method was validated by comparing the results of natural water samples using various methods, including alpha spectrometry.
The BAL method is an excellent alternative to common radiometric methods, especially in emergency situations, as it utilizes common instrumentation and provides rapid turnaround time (as fast as 48 hours) for results with comparable or lower detection limits. BAL is a DOECAP-audited laboratory available to perform specialty trace metals analytical services at all US DOE sites and maintains a current Radioactive Materials License.
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The month of November marks the 10-year work anniversary for our Client Services Manager, Tiffany Stilwater. For those clients who have been lucky enough to work with Tiffany, that means 10 years of cheery greetings, weather updates, and copious exclamation points in every email you receive from her! Tiffany started her BAL career as a Project Coordinator, then worked her way up to her current position after exceeding all expectations as a stellar Project Manager. On a daily basis, Tiffany continues to deliver an exceptional level of customer service to her many clients, and they love her for it! Please join me in congratulating Tiffany on this significant milestone. From everyone at Brooks Applied Labs, thank you for your dedication, Tiffany!!!
To get into the spirit this year, Brooks Applied Labs added a pumpkin carving contest to the mix of Halloween Spooktacular events and contests. The resulting festive jack-o-lanterns submitted by each laboratory department included BB-8, Momma Pumpkin, Pumpkinception, Mummy, Trumpkin, and many more. After the votes were tallied, the winning team was announced: the Quality Assurance Department with their “Jack Skellington” pumpkin. Other winners included Office Manager Sarah Clark for her Gypsy Fortune Teller costume, and Project Coordinator Anna Prestbo for her Graveyard Brownies. Good job team…way to be creative!