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Radionuclides in Drinking Water

Module 2: Sample Preservation, Pretreatment, and Preparation


This module has two parts. The first part identifies how water samples improperly preserved will not give valid results. "Sample Preservation, Pretreatment, and Preparation" describes the basic principles of sample handling and preservation for drinking water samples. It also briefly discusses potential sources of contamination or loss of radionuclides from a water sample.

The second part of this module describes several concepts and practices used in radiochemical analysis. Carriers and tracers are elements added to a sample to identify any losses of radionuclides that occur during the analytical separation process. Specific examples of how carriers and tracers are used, and ones that are commonly used in several analyses are presented. Several examples of how to calculate yield by use of carriers and tracers are given as instructional problems. This module should take approximately 35-40 minutes to complete.

Instructional Resources

This module is divided into 2 tutorials. Each tutorial is presented as a self-paced Adobe Flash video with audio narration. The learning aids that are provided for you to use in this module, which you may access via the links in the "Instructional Resources" panel on the right, include the "Multi-Agency Radiological Laboratory Analytical Protocols Manual" (MARLAP) sections on sampling issues, sample preparation, and carriers and tracers. You may wish to print out the PDF transcript of the audio narration, also available from a link in the "Instructional Resources" panel. The "Links to Additional Information" provide more in-depth discussions of these topic areas.


Tutorial 2.1 - Sample Preparation, Preservation, and Pretreatment

At the end of this tutorial you will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of following the laboratory's/client's Field Sampling Plan.
  • List the benefits and problems associated with using acid as a preservative for water samples.
  • Describe 5 common sources of error introduced during sample handling and sub-sampling procedures.
  • Explain the term "isotopic exchange" and how this may be impacted by the choice of sample preservation techniques.

Tutorial 2.2 - Carriers, Tracers and Yield Calculations

At the end of this tutorial you will be able to:

  • Describe how carriers, tracers, and yield calculations are used in radiochemical analyses.
  • Calculate the activity of a radionuclide based on chemical yield.
  • Calculate the activity of a radionuclide based on radiochemical yield.
  • List the sequence of steps that should be followed during an analytical protocol that incorporates yield monitors.

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