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Ultra-Low Level Plutonium Isotopes in the NIST SRM 4355A (Peruvian Soil-1)



Kenneth G. Inn, Jerome LaRosa, Svetlana Nour, James J. Filliben, George Brooks, Stephen Lamont, Rob Steiner, Ross W. Williams, Brad Patton, Debbie Bostick, Gregory Eiden, Steve Petersen, Donna Beals, James Cadieux, Greg Hall, Steve Goldenberg, Stephen Vogt


For more than 20 years, countries and their agencies which monitor discharge sites and storage facilities have relied on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Standard Reference Material (SRM) 4355 Peruvian Soil reference material. Its low fallout contamination makes it an ideal soil blank for measurements associated with terrestrial pathway to man studies. Presently, SRM 4355 is out of stock, and a new batch of the Peruvian soil is currently under development as future NIST SRM 4355A. Both environmental radioanalytical laboratories and mass spectrometry communities will benefit from this SRM. The former must assess their laboratory contamination and measurement detection limits by measurement of blank sample material. The Peruvian Soil is so low in anthropogenic radionuclides that it is a suitable virtual blank. On the other hand, mass spectrometric laboratories have high sensitivity instruments that are capable of quantitative isotopic measurements at low plutonium levels of the SRM 4355 (first Peruvian Soil SRM) that provided the mass spectrometric community with the calibration, quality control, and testing material needed for methods development, and legal defensibility. The quantification of the ultra-low plutonium content in the SRM 4355A was a considerable challenge for the mass spectrometric laboratories. Careful blank control and correction, isobaric interferences, instrument stability, peak assessment, and detection assessment were necessary. Furthermore, a systematic statistical evaluation of the measurement results and considerable discussions with the mass spectroscopy metrologists were needed to derive the certified values and uncertainties. SRM 4355A will provide the mass spectrometric community with the quality control and testing material needed for higher sensitivity methods development, and legal defensibility.
Applied Radiation and Isotopes


analytical blank, inductively-couple-plasma mass spectrometry, plutonium, radiochemistry, reference material, sediment, thermal-ionization mass spectrometry


Inn, K. , LaRosa, J. , Nour, S. , Filliben, J. , Brooks, G. , Lamont, S. , Steiner, R. , Williams, R. , Patton, B. , Bostick, D. , Eiden, G. , Petersen, S. , Beals, D. , Cadieux, J. , Hall, G. , Goldenberg, S. and Vogt, S. (2009), Ultra-Low Level Plutonium Isotopes in the NIST SRM 4355A (Peruvian Soil-1), Applied Radiation and Isotopes, [online], (Accessed February 21, 2024)
Created January 9, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017