Journal article

Determination of radionuclide levels in rainwater using ion exchange resin and γ-spectrometry

  • Jungck, Matthias H.A. Radioprotection, Consumer Protection, Federal Office of Public Health, Bern, Switzerland
  • Andrey, Jean-Louis Institute of Physics, University of Fribourg,Switzerland
  • Froidevaux, Pascal Institute of Radiations Physics, University Hospital Center, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Published in:
  • Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. - 2009, vol. 100, no. 4, p. 361-365
English The evaluation of radioactivity accidentally released into the atmosphere involves determining the radioactivity levels of rainwater samples. Rainwater scavenges atmospheric airborne radioactivity in such a way that surface contamination can be deduced from rainfall rate and rainwater radioactivity content. For this purpose, rainwater is usually collected in large surface collectors and then measured by γ-spectrometry after such treatments as evaporation or iron hydroxide precipitation. We found that collectors can be adapted to accept large surface (diameter 47 mm) cartridges containing a strongly acidic resin (Dowex AG 88) which is able to quantitatively extract radioactivity from rainwater, even during heavy rainfall. The resin can then be measured by γ-spectrometry. The detection limit is 0.1 Bq per sample of resin (80 g) for ¹³⁷Cs. Natural ⁷Be and ²¹⁰Pb can also be measured and the activity ratio of both radionuclides is comparable with those obtained through iron hydroxide precipitation and air filter measurements. Occasionally ²²Na has also been measured above the detection limit. A comparison between the evaporation method and the resin method demonstrated that 2/3 of ⁷Be can be lost during the evaporation process. The resin method is simple and highly efficient at extracting radioactivity. Because of these great advantages, we anticipate it could replace former rainwater determination methods. Moreover, it does not necessitate the transportation of large rainwater volumes to the laboratory.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Physique
  • English
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