The Radiochemistry Unit at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene plans on working with the FDA and other FERN laboratories to extend current rapid-screening methods to more food matrices, to develop new rapid-screening methods, and to extend and develop methods to identify specific radionuclides. Some work intensive steps-like wet-ashing and chromatography-require considerable attention by an analyst. It is proposed that these steps be automated to increase the sample preparation rate and to allow analysts to spend more time on other tasks. The Radiochemistry Unit will remain in a state of preparedness, for both emergency and routine surveillance samples, by keeping a sufficient stock of supplies, by periodic preventative maintenance of instrumentation, and by keeping an inventory of spare parts for the instrumentation. It is proposed that three computer programs be developed. One program already performs several tasks, one is partially developed, and one has not yet been started. The first program has been developed to calculate a sample's gross alpha activity from its known alpha emitters. The calculated gross alpha activity can be compared to the experimental gross alpha activity to determine whether all of a sample's alpha activity has been accounted for. The program can also be used interactively to perform activity calculations and to help identify unknown radionuclides. One objective is to further develop this program to calculate a sample's gross beta activity from its known beta emitters. The second program has been partially developed to fit the peaks of alpha spectra in cases where there is considerable peak overlap. In some cases, peak overlap in spectra cannot be avoided;in other cases, peak overlap is the result of contamination or excessive broadening of the peaks, due to a high precipitate mass. In such cases, the peak fit program can be used to obtain more accurate information than could be obtained using a region of interest approach. It is proposed that this program be completed. It is proposed that a third program be written to optimize the use of labor and resources during and emergency situation. Any or these programs will be available to other FERN laboratories.
This grant will be used to increase the Nation's capacity to analyze food in the event of a radiological emergency. This grant will also be used to make improvements in the planning and execution of an emergency strategy.