Online Laboratory Magazine


Radioactivity in fume dust from metal industry: A new calibration standard


In close collaboration with European Measurement Institutions, JRC scientists organised an inter-laboratory comparison study to determine the reference radioactivity concentrations (137Cs and 60Co) in fume dust.

More than one-half of the yearly steel production in EU comes from recycling of metal scrap. The radionuclides 137Cs and 60Co from e.g. medical "orphan" sources are the main radionuclides involved in melting incidents at steel foundries. Due to its physical and chemical properties, 137Cs passes in such case into the off-gas/ fume dust, a by-product of the melting process. Despite 60Co is gathered in the steel itself, part of it may also end up in furnace dust.

In the European project, 'MetroMetal' (Metrology for European Metal industry) scientists from the JRC-Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) have collaborated with 13 NMIs (National Metrological Institutes) to develop measurement methods and calibration standards to be used in steel mills for detecting radioactive contamination in different places in a plant in a quicker and more robust fashion compared with today.

To certify the radioactivity concentration (137Cs and 60Co ) in a fume dust calibration standard, JRC-IRMM organised an inter-laboratory comparison study amongst all the partners of the project. The new standard (reference material) of 137Cs and 60Co in fume dust responds to the need for suitable activity standards and may enable JRC-IRMM to plan the conception of a fume dust certified reference material (CRM) in the future.

» Original publication

Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre