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Estimation of Total Skeletal Content of Plutonium and 241Am From Analysis of a Single Bone

Tolmachev, Sergei Y.; Avtandilashvili, Maia; Kathren, Ronald L.1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001123

The skeleton is one of the major retention sites for internally deposited actinides. Thus, an accurate estimation of the total skeleton content of these elements is important for biokinetic modeling and internal radiation dose assessment. Data from 18 whole-body donations to the US Transuranium and Uranium Registries with known plutonium intakes were used to develop a simple and reliable method for estimation of plutonium and 241Am activity in the total skeleton from single-bone analysis. A coefficient of deposition Kdep, defined as the ratio of actinide content in the patella to that in the skeleton, was calculated for 239Pu, 238Pu, and 241Am. No statistical difference was found in Kdep values among these radionuclides. Variability in Kdep values was investigated with relation to skeleton pathology (osteoporosis). The average Kdep of 0.0051 ± 0.0009 for the osteoporotic group was statistically different from Kdep of 0.0032 ± 0.0010 for nonosteoporotic individuals. The use of Kdep allows for rapid estimation of the total skeletal content of plutonium and 241Am with up to 35% uncertainty. To improve accuracy and precision of total skeleton activity estimates, regression analysis with power function was applied to the data. Strong correlation (r2 > 0.9) was found between 239Pu, 238Pu, and 241Am activities measured in the patella bone and total skeleton activity. The results of this study are specifically important for the optimization of bone sample collection for US Transuranium and Uranium Registries partial-body donations.

1US Transuranium and Uranium Registries, Washington State University.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contract Sergei Y. Tolmachev, US Transuranium and Uranium Registries, Washington State University, 1845 Terminal Drive, Suite 201, Richland, WA 99354-4959, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 11 March 2019)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society