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Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry Measurement of Isotope Ratios in Depleted Uranium Contaminated Soils

Volume 57, Number 9 (Sept. 2003) Page 1173-1177

Seltzer, Michael D.

Laser ablation of pressed soil pellets was examined as a means of direct sample introduction to enable inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) screening of soils for residual depleted uranium (DU) contamination. Differentiation between depleted uranium, an anthropogenic contaminant, and naturally occurring uranium was accomplished on the basis of measured 235U/238U isotope ratios. The amount of sample preparation required for laser ablation is considerably less than that typically required for aqueous sample introduction. The amount of hazardous laboratory waste generated is diminished accordingly. During the present investigation, 235U/238U isotope ratios measured for field samples were in good agreement with those derived from gamma spectrometry measurements. However, substantial compensation was required to mitigate the effects of impaired pulse counting attributed to sample inhomogeneity and sporadic introduction of uranium analyte into the plasma.