The key role of atomic spectrometry in radiation protection
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident has renewed considerable public concern about the dangers posed by radioactive contamination in the environment and the related internal exposure from the contaminating radionuclides. Sensitive and accurate analysis of radiation sources, and the amount and range of radioactive contamination is essential for effective radiation protection. This review describes atomic spectrometric techniques employed in radiation protection, such as accelerator mass spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, proton-induced X-ray emission and synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. Applications of atomic spectrometric techniques in radio-ecological studies in several significant nuclear contamination events in Japan, studies using a suitable stable element as an analogue of long-lived radionuclides related to high-level radioactive waste disposal, and microbeam elemental analysis for estimation of internal radionuclides radiation, are reviewed to highlight the important role of atomic spectrometric techniques in radiation protection. Finally, future research perspectives of atomic spectrometric techniques for radiation protection with an emphasis on the Fukushima nuclear accident are briefly outlined.