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Preliminary study on aerosol particle addition calibration method for on-line quantitative analysis of airborne radioactive particles with ICP-MS

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An ambient aerosol concentration enrichment system coupled with ICP-MS for real-time monitoring of airborne radioactive particles is now under development. ICP-MS is very sensitive to sample introduction conditions, so it is necessary to develop an easy-use calibration method for on-line quantitative analysis in field application. In this paper, a calibration method using standard solution instead of monodisperse particles was established and validated preliminarily. First of all, four parameters for the method were determined experimentally, including: uptake flow rate and nebulisation efficiency of the Microconcentric nebuliser, nebulisation/transport efficiency of Aridus Desolvating Sample Introduction System, and Relative Sensitivity Factor between 159 Tb and 174 Yb. Then, monodisperse terbium nitrate particles were generated by a commercial Vibrating Orifice Aerosol Generator. Continuous aerosols of ytterbium nitrate droplets were nebulised from standard solution. They were mixed together, desolvated through the membrane dryer and introduced into ICP-MS for on-line analysis of terbium nitrate particles. The air sampled from nuclear environment was also introduced into ICP-MS to investigate the effect of flow rate on instrument responses. Finally, atom numbers of 159 Tb in discrete terbium nitrate particles were determined using the calibration method and compared to the calculated value. Results show that when air flow rate increase from 10 mL min-1 to 100 mL min-1, the ratio of 159 Tb ion count to 174 Yb ion intensity keeps constant although instrument sensitivity decreases by a factor of 25. The relative standard deviation of 159 Tb atom number measured is better than 18%. The discrepancy with the calculated value could be attributed to the over-estimation of atom number in the particles generated by VOAG because there was some liquid leakage in the VOAG.
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Keywords: ICP-MS; aerosol particle addition calibration method; airborne radioactive particles; on-line quantitative analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Engineering Physics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China,Northwest Institute of Nuclear Technology, Xi'an, China 2: Northwest Institute of Nuclear Technology, Xi'an, China 3: Department of Engineering Physics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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