Because of the very low level of 90Sr in the environmental soil samples and its determination by beta counting may take several weeks, we developed a procedure for ultratrace determination of 90Sr using collision reaction cell-inductively coupled plasma tandem mass spectrometry (CRC-ICP-MS/MS, Agilent 8800).
Soil samples were dried at 105 °C and then heated in a furnace at 550 °C to remove any organics present. 500 g of each soil samples were aliquoted into 2000 ml glass beakers. Each Soils samples were soaked in 2 ppm Sr solution carrier to allow determination of chemical yield. The solid to liquid ratio was 1:1. Finally the soil samples were dried at 105 °C. Five hundred milliliters concentrated nitric acid and 250 ml hydrochloric acid volumes were added on 500 g soil samples. The samples were digested on hot plate at 80 °C to prevent spraying with continuous manual mixing. The leachate solution was separated. The solids were rinsed with 500 ml deionized water, warmed on a hot plate and the leachate plus previous leachate were filtered and the total volume was reduced to 500 ml by evaporation. Final leachate volume was transferred to a centrifuge tubes. The centrifuge tubes were centrifuged at 3,500 rpm for 10 min. The leachate was transferred to a 1 L beaker and heated on a hot plate to evaporate the leachate to dryness. The reside was re-dissolved in 100 ml of 2% HNO3 and reduced by evaporation to 10 mL. The solution was measured directly by CRC-ICP-MS/MS by setting the first quadruple analyzer to m/z 90 and introducing oxygen gas into the reaction cell for elimination isobar interference from zirconium-90. The method was validated by measurements of standard reference materials and applied on environmental soil samples. The overall time requirement for the measurement of strontium-90 by CRC-ICP-MS/MS is 2 days, significantly shorter than any radioanalytical protocol currently available.