Bioassay and alpha spectrometry in indirect monitoring of Spanish workers exposed to enriched uranium
Workers at risk of exposure to uranium compounds should be monitored and their internal exposure quantified in terms of committed effective dose E(50) in mSv. In vitro bioassay methods can quantify uranium in urine and faeces at low activity levels. Alpha spectrometry (AS) is the most common method used for monitoring alpha-emitting radionuclides in internal dosimetry services. It provides isotopic information and low minimum detectable activity (MDA) values (≤0.50 mBq per sample). This study reports the results of a five-year monitoring of workers exposed to uranium at a Spanish Juzbado facility, which produces nuclear fuel elements enriched with up to 5 % of 235U. Monitoring included about 100 workers per year, most of whom had worked at the facility for more than 10 years before the individual monitoring programme was established. We analysed nearly 550 samples of more than 200 workers over five years. The obtained results indicate that workers were adequately protected from uranium exposure through inhalation and had an acceptably low chronic intake at the facility.