Photon Activation Analysis on Dust Particles
M. Mamtimin 1, P. L. Cole 1*, C. Segebade 2
1 Idaho State University
2 Idaho Accelerator Center
Instrumental analytical methods are preferable in studying the expected sub-milligram quantities of airborne particulates collected in dust filters. The multi-step analytical procedure used in treating samples chemically is complicated. Moreover, due to the expected small masses of the “dust particles” collected on filters, such a chemical treatment can easily lead to significant contamination levels. Radioanalytical techniques, and in particular, activation analysis methods offer a far cleaner alternative. Activation methods require minimal sample preparation and provide sufficient sensitivity for detecting the vast majority of the elements throughout the periodic table. While neutron activation (NAA) has historically been the more standard technique, in this paper we shall discuss the technique of activating the dust particles with 10 to 30 MeV photons by means of photon activation analysis (PAA). The samples are embedded in dust collection filters and are irradiated “as is” by these photons. The radioactivity of the photonuclear reaction products are measured with appropriate spectrometers and the respective analytes are quantified using multi-component reference materials. In the talk, we will discuss our most recent results and the techniques we are developing to make PAA an alternate approach for analyzing dust samples. Such information should be very useful in extracting the impact of industrialization on the air we breathe, for example.