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Agilent Develops Method to Quickly and Accurately Measure Radioactive Elements Using ICP-MS

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Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced it has developed a new method to identify radioactive iodine using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The method will first be used by Gakushuin University in Japan, with a donated Agilent 7700 ICP-MS System.

Testing will be performed in the lab of Dr. Yasuyuki Muramatsu, a renowned expert on radiation in the environment. Dr. Muramatsu, a professor in the university’s chemistry department, was recently appointed by the Fukushima Prefecture to assess the effect of radiation on local farms after the area’s nuclear power plant was damaged by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Dr. Muramatsu’s lab measures ultra-trace levels of radioactive elements, including iodine isotopes 129, 131 and 127, as well as trace elements such as Cs and Sr, which are relevant to radioisotopes released from the reactor into the environment.

“Radioactive iodine-129 is of particular interest because of its long half-life,” said Dr. Muramatsu. “Monitoring its levels will be important for the safety assessment of radioiodine deposited in the environment.”

This nuclide is released continuously into the environment as a result of activities such as nuclear weapons tests, accidents at nuclear power plants and emissions from spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plants.

“The application requires a high-energy oxygen collision/reaction cell step made possible on the Agilent 7700 ICP-MS,” said Ken Suzuki, ICP-MS marketing manager at Agilent.

Suzuki continued, “While there are other measurement techniques and instruments, including other ICP-MS systems, we believe the measurement of 129I using our method is the fastest, most accurate and lowest-cost.”

Since the earthquake on March 11, Agilent and the Agilent Technologies Foundation have contributed over $850,000 in donations and equipment to help with the disaster response.