A plutonium air sampling program typically includes a system of fixed head air
samplers to quantify air concentrations in the workplace. The basic characteristics of
the sampling equipment remain the same except that there is normally less flexibility
in locating the sampling heads but more flexibility in selecting and operating the
counting instrumentation. In many instances, installed sampling systems may no
longer be operational or may be in the wrong locations. In those instances, portable
air sampling systems, both impactor-head type or filter type may be used to provide
required worker protection.
4.1.6 Sample Analysis
Plutonium air samples are typically analyzed by alpha counting, alpha spectral
analysis, or chemical analysis. The technique used will depend upon the filter media
used, the physical and chemical state of the contaminate, the urgency for the data,
interfering radionuclides, and other factors. Authoritative guidance in establishing
plutonium air sampling counting and analysis methods can be found in NCRP Report
No. 58, A Handbook of Radioactivity Measurements Procedures (NCRP, 1985) and
in Air Sampling in the Workplace (NRC, 1993).
4.1.7 Monitoring Strategies and Protocols
The rapid, early detection of airborne releases requires knowledge of the potential
sources and characteristics of the airborne material, the locations of the personnel
who are at risk, and the capabilities of the detection devices. Optimally, the samples
should be taken between the source and the potentially exposed worker (or member
of the public) to intercept the airborne materials before they reach the individual.
With the numerous sources and mobility of the workers, interception under all
conditions is difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Samples of airborne materials
should be taken as close to their points of origin as practicable to maximize the
probability of their detection (airborne concentrations are at a maximum at their
points of origin).
Fixed probes that are positioned to intercept releases from recognized major potential
sources should be used along with portable air samplers for planned activities with
known potentials for airborne release of contaminants and for temporary storage of
contaminated materials in areas of low air flow. If the workplace exhaust system can
be shown to provide rapid, essentially quantitative clearance of airborne
routine coverage of unplanned activities. If justified by documented studies, other
sampling arrangements may be used that provide improved "total" coverage of the
workplace environment for the early detection of airborne contamination.