Tritium in urine from members of the general public and occupationally exposed workers in Lund, Sweden, prior to operation of the European Spallation Source

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A powerful neutron source, the European Spallation Source (ESS), is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden (~90 000 inhabitants). Levels of tritium (3H) in urine were estimated in members of the public in Lund and employees at the ESS using liquid scintillation counting, to obtain baseline levels before the start of operation of the ESS. These were compared with levels in other occupationally exposed radiation workers. Both the spallation reaction in the ESS tungsten target and the activation of various materials by the protons produced by the 5 MW linear accelerator will generate tritium, which will be released into the atmosphere mainly as tritiated water (HTO). Urinary HTO activity concentrations were determined in a total of 55 individuals belonging to four different categories: ESS employees, neighbours of the ESS, members of the general public in Lund and exposed workers from other facilities. The participants were asked to provide information on their beverage intake the day before urine sampling. The urine samples were filtered on activated charcoal and distilled before analysis. The effect of sample preparation on the isotope fractionation of urine samples was investigated by isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) of 2H/1H, which showed no influence. IRMS was also used to investigate if the ratio between the stable hydrogen isotopes (2H/1H) could provide useful data of the origin, and hence the tritium concentration, of various types of drinking water. Urinary HTO activity concentrations determined using liquid scintillation counting (LSC) were found to be below the minimum detectable activity (MDA) of 2.1 Bq⋅L−1 for most of the participants. Five of the workers actively handling organic tritiated material were found to have activity concentrations between 3.5 and 11 Bq⋅L−1, which were higher than the average value in local tap water of 1.5 ± 0.6 Bq⋅L−1. The results will be used to evaluate the radiological impact on the population from future releases of tritium resulting from the operation of the ESS.


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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Miljömedicin och yrkesmedicin


TidskriftJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
StatusPublished - 2020
Peer review utfördJa

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