Tellurium belongs to the elements not frequently determined by neutron activation analysis (NAA) or other analytical methods. We present results of a new methodological study using three independent modes of instrumental NAA (INAA) using the 123mTe, 131Te and 131I radionuclides. We compare the results obtained in terms of accuracy, precision and limits of detection (LOD). We utilized the INAA procedures tested for the tellurium determination in aerosol filters and trap solutions in a model experiment aimed at reducing the knowledge gap concerning the behaviour of 132Te, a radiologically significant fission product, which constitutes a considerable health risk towards the public in case of its release in a severe nuclear power plant accident. We found that the nuclear reaction 130Te(n,γ)131Te and gamma-ray spectrometric measurement of 131I, a descendant of 131Te, is the most sensitive way of Te determination by INAA providing as low LOD values as 0.15 µg of Te in the Teflon aerosol filters and 0.22 µg mL-1 in the 0.1 M NaOH trap solutions. The three independent INAA modes allowed employing the self-verification principle of INAA for increasing the trustworthiness of our results. Finally, we also point to the indispensable role of the non-destructive feature of INAA for assay of samples, such as Teflon aerosol filters, that are difficult to be analysed by other analytical methods requiring complete sample destruction without analyte losses.
- Te fission product
- Instrumental neutron activation analysis
- Self-verification principle
- Severe nuclear accident
- Te determination