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DGT as an in situ tool for measuring radiocaesium in natural waters.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date15/11/2001
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


The application of diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) samplers for the measurement of cesium radionuclides in solution, using an ammonium molybdophosphate (AMP) binding agent, was tested under both laboratory and field conditions. In the former they proved able to reproduce known 134Cs concentrations (60 Bq L-1) with a high degree of accuracy and precision over periods up to 1 d, in freshwaters over a wide range of pH and temperature, and in saline water. In field trials in a freshwater lake receiving nuclear power station discharges, mean concentrations of 137Cs (47−61 mBq L-1) were measured over periods from 5 d to 1 month. These agreed, within error, with mean concentrations determined from grab samples but rigorous field validation of long-term (month) deployments of DGT devices proved impossible using conventional sampling procedures, due to loss of 137Cs to container walls. Identified limitations of the DGT technique included probable AMP degradation over longer periods and calibration problems if large changes in temperature and concentration occurred together. Potential limitations due to biofilm growth were considered not to be significant. Despite the limitations, the technique appears to measure concentrations accurately for deployment times of 1 month or less. It has several advantages over traditional sampling methods for monitoring radionuclides in the solution/dissolved phase, including its simplicity, provision of time-averaged mean concentrations, and automatic in-situ concentration onto a medium with ideal counting geometry for gamma spectrometry.