Development of Lead-210 Measurement in Peat Using Polonium Extraction. A Procedural Comparison

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Development of Lead-210 Measurement in Peat Using Polonium Extraction. A Procedural Comparison

Two chemical treatments for lead-210 measurement were compared on the sub-surface samples of a core from an ombrotrophic bog from East Belgium. The classical procedure involves a concentrated acid extraction of polonium. However, this treatment represents substantial health risks together with unknowns regarding both the degree of cleanliness and the Po extraction rate, and most importantly, is rather time consuming. We developed here an improved procedure involving an ashing step prior to acid extraction. This allows substantial improvements such as: 1/ the use of a relatively small amount of acid compared to the classical procedure and 2/ the substantial reduction of a total sample digestion time. Measurements of 210Pb concentrations were conducted by alpha spectrometry. Results show a good agreement of unsupported 210Pb activity obtained for both procedures, although some unknowns remain concerning the adsorption of 210Po on the plastic test tube, the volatilization of a small amount of ash, or the absorption of alpha particle at the alpha source surface. This however should not affect the 210Pb measurement as all the samples are spiked prior to ashing (i.e. the recoveries are fully monitored). Through this study, we are suggesting researchers to follow this new procedure in order to increase safety, cleanliness, better recovery and substantial time gain.

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