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Use of Tritium Accelerator Mass Spectrometry for Tree Ring Analysis

Use of Tritium Accelerator Mass Spectrometry for Tree Ring Analysis

Environmental Science and Technology 36(13): 48-52

Public concerns over the health effects associated with low-level and long-term exposure to tritium released from industrial point sources have generated the demand for better methods to evaluate historical tritium exposure levels for these communities. The cellulose of trees accurately reflects the tritium concentration in the source water and may contain the only historical record of tritium exposure. The tritium activity in the annual rings of a tree was measured using accelerator mass spectrometry to reconstruct historical annual averages of tritium exposure. Milligram-sized samples of the annual tree rings from a Tamarix located at the Nevada Test Site are used for validation of this methodology. The salt cedar was chosen since it had a single source of tritiated water that was well-characterized as it varied over time. The decay-corrected tritium activity of the water in which the salt cedar grew closely agrees with the organically bound tritium activity in its annual rings. This demonstrates that the milligram-sized samples used in tritium accelerator mass spectrometry are suited for reconstructing anthropogenic tritium levels in the environment. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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Accession: 010025796

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 12144257

DOI: 10.1021/es015837o

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