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An Overview of Analytical Methods for in Vitro Bioassay of Actinides

Thakur, P.1; Ward, A.L.2

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000982

The bioassay of urine and fecal samples has been used since the 1940s to determine an individual’s uptake of uranium and actinide elements such as americium and plutonium. Over the years, several analytical separation methods and techniques have been employed for these types of analyses. Analytical separations, ranging from solvent extraction and anion exchange to chromatography, and analytical techniques, ranging from autoradiography to kinetic phosphorescence to fission-track analysis and high-resolution solid-state alpha spectroscopy, have been used at one time or another. Over the last few decades, there have been significant advances in radiochemical separations, as well as an increased use of mass spectroscopy, to determine trace and ultratrace levels of actinides in urine and fecal samples. This review summarizes and discusses developments in radiochemical separation methods and advancements in analytical techniques for actinide bioassay since the early 1940s to the present, followed by a recent development and trend in the bioassay of actinides—particularly in urine and fecal samples.

1Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center;

2US Department of Energy, Carlsbad Field Office.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact Punam Thakur, Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, 1400 University Drive, Carlsbad, NM 88220, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 20 August 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society