Washington State University College of Pharmacy

United States Transuranium & Uranium Registries

Radiochemistry

A vital aspect of USTUR operations

 

Early Radiochemistry Laboratories

Radioanalytical support was historically provided by DOE contractor laboratories. The Rock Flats Facility (RFF) and Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratories (PNL) conducted all radiochemical analyses for USTR tissue samples until 1971 when Los Alamos National (formerly Scientific) Laboratory (LANL) was added to the list of "approved" laboratories. The Rocky Flats Facility arranged autopsies and performed the radiochemical analysis on tissues originating at RFF, and all other tissues were sent to PNL or Los Alamos.

Los Alamos National Laboratory fully replaced PNL's radiochemistry activities in 1978, and RRF ceased its Registries related radiochemistry work in 1987. Los Alamos National Laboratory thus conducted all radiochemical determinations of actinide elements in USTR human tissue samples from 1987 to 1994.

An unusual aspect of the relationship between the Registries and the various DOE contractor laboratories was that the latter were funded and administered separately from the Registries by the DOE and its predecessor agencies. PNL and LANL submitted their own independent research proposals, and RRF supported their Registries related radioanalytical work from their general plant budget. Integration of the radioanalytical and other Registries operations was largely informal and ad hoc. The annual Advisory Committee meetings served to provide some coordination among the participants from the various laboratories.

Radiochemistry moves to WSU Pullman

WSU Pullman campus

The USTUR's radiochemistry operations were moved to WSU's College of Pharmacy and Nuclear Radiation Center (NRC) in 1994 and Royston Filby was appointed as director of radiochemistry operations. Filby met with radiochemists Edward Gonzalez and James McInroy at LANL and toured the laboratory facilities that were devoted to USTUR radiochemistry. Copies of all analytical procedures, including QA/QC procedures used by LANL in the USTUR program, were obtained and brought to Pullman. The move to Pullman administratively combined radiochemistry with the remainder of the Registries' operations, lowering costs and better coordinating radiochemistry operations with the Registries' efforts.

Center for Laboratory Sciences

Radiochemist, Dot Stuit, with the alpha spectroscopy system at the Center for Laboratory Sciences.

In June 2006, the USTUR moved its radiochemistry facilities from WSU Pullman to the Center for Laboratory Sciences (CLS) in the Tri-Cities (Pasco, WA). The CLS is a joint public/private research and service laboratory, operated by the RJ Lee Group, Inc., in partnership with the Tri-Cities’ community college (Columbia Basin College, CBC).

Research radiochemist, Sergei Y. Tolmachev, was hired on as Associate Research Professor in 2007. Tolmachev specializes in the application of Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to the measurement of trace amounts of uranium and other heavy metals in environmental and biological samples. USTUR has also engaged the consulting services of Dr. Isabel Fisenne who is an internationally recognized expert on analysis of actinides in human tissues.

Case Radiochemical Analyses

USTUR previously ran 4-9 ‘survey’ samples on both partial- and whole-body donations, in order to provide an initial estimate of the tissue contents. We are now streamlining case radioanalyses by evaluating the health physics and bioassay data from each case, in order to determine appropriate radioisotope tracer levels for each tissue sample. This new procedure will optimize the use of our National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tracer solutions, and also optimize the measurements of various isotopes in the critical tissues for biokinetic modeling.

 

This page was last updated on July 29, 2009. usturwebmaster@tricity.wsu.edu

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