With the experimental evolution of fusion power the levels of tritium used will increase as will the potential for human exposure. Tritium-loaded carbon particles produced during the experimental operation of the Joint European Torus fusion tokamak have been characterised in terms of size, elemental composition and specific activity of tritium elsewhere. The aim of this study was to characterise the dissolution of tritium from these particles in order to derive dose coefficients for this material and provide guidance on monitoring procedures should it be inhaled accidentally. The dissolution of tritium was measured for 100 d in lung serum simulant from two batches of materials, SG1 and SG2, which were obtained from carbon tiles originating from different positions in the reactor. Retention over this period followed a three-component exponential. About 1-5% dissolved within a minute, and up to a further 20% dissolved over 100 d for the SG1 materials but <1% for the SG2 materials. Dissolution between the SG1 materials varied greatly, whereas the SG2 materials were similar. As a result of this variability, the assessed dose from urinary excretion could be in error by up to two orders of magnitude depending on the material inhaled. It is recommended that (i) the dissolution is measured for a wider range of materials, preferably dusts collected in working areas, and (ii) in vivo studies are performed to characterise fully the urine excretion of tritium from these materials. This information could be used to provide improved guidance on dose assessment after special or routine monitoring, taking account of the likely variation of particle size and biological retention half times.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The experimental studies described in this paper were funded by Euratom/UKAEA Fusion Association.
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