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A Simple Method to Screen for Radiostrontium in Water by Ion Exchange Chromatography

Nguyen, Dao M.; Moody, W. Allen; Williamson, John A.1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001020

Radiostrontium isotopes (85Sr, 89Sr, and 90Sr) are major fission by-products in nuclear reactors, in radiological events, and in environmental radioactive contamination. A method to analyze 89Sr and 90Sr in water has been developed using gradient elution with dilute hydrochloric acid and cation exchange resin, followed by carbonate precipitation. Counting was done on a gas proportional counter. The sample was recounted a second time after 2 to 3 wk to permit 90Y, a progeny of 90Sr, to achieve secular equilibrium and to allow 89Sr and 90Sr to be determined. This method was found to be simple, exhibiting high recovery, reduced use of hazardous chemicals, and lower cost compared to other current methods. An extensive comparison of the performance of the cation exchange method vs. a method using strong nitric acid (US Environmental Protection Agency Method 905.0) and a method using a specific strontium resin was conducted on performance test samples containing 90Sr (in a number of matrices) from the US Department of Energy’s Mixed Analyte Performance Evaluation Program and mixed 89Sr- and 90Sr-containing water samples from the Environmental Resource Associates quality assurance program. The method described here is shown to yield comparable results to others.

1Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Radiation Control.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact Dao Nguyen at Florida Department of Health, 4052 Bald Cypress Way, Tallahassee, FL 32399, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 9 October 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society