Elemental bio-imaging of thorium, uranium, and plutonium in tissues from occupationally exposed former nuclear workers

ACS Publications
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Journal Article
Analytical Chemistry, 2010, 82 (8), pp. 3176 - 3182
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Internal exposure from naturally occurring radionuclides (including the inhaled long-lived actinides 232Th and 238U) is a component of the ubiquitous background radiation dose (National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. Ionizing radiation exposure of the population of the United States; NCRP Report No. 160; NCRP: Bethesda, MD, 2009). It is of interest to compare the concentration distribution of these natural ?-emitters in the lungs and respiratory lymph nodes with those resulting from occupational exposure, including exposure to anthropogenic plutonium and depleted and enriched uranium. This study examines the application of laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) to quantifying and visualizing the mass distribution of uranium and thorium isotopes from both occupational and natural background exposure in human respiratory tissues and, for the first time, extends this application to the direct imaging of plutonium isotopes. Sections of lymphatic and lung tissues taken from deceased former nuclear workers with a known history of occupational exposure to specific actinide elements (uranium, plutonium, or americium) were analyzed by LA-ICPMS.
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