Analysis of Radium Solubility Changes in Soils Contaminated with a Barium Sulfate-Radium Matrix Found at Sites Contaminated with Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (N.O.R.M.)EPA Grant Number: GF9501065
Title: Analysis of Radium Solubility Changes in Soils Contaminated with a Barium Sulfate-Radium Matrix Found at Sites Contaminated with Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (N.O.R.M.)
Investigators: Blasio, Christopher J.
Institution: University of Cincinnati
EPA Project Officer: Broadway, Virginia
Project Period: July 1, 1995 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $38,405
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Earth
The purpose of this study is to examine potential changes in solubility of radium found in a barium sulfate (BaSO4) matrix, over time. Isotopes of radium, 226Ra and 228Ra, are common in most soils but are often enhanced due to dumping byproducts from uranium mill tailings, oil field brine, and sludge pits. Radium is fairly soluble in water and mobile in the environment, but, when encapsulated in a BaSO4 matrix, is insoluble and immobile and poses little threat to human health and the environment. The results of this study will be used to determine the fate of radium in the ecosystem over time based on how easily the BaSO4 matrix breaks down in comparison with the radium half life of 1,622 years. The specific activities include: 1) preparation of soil samples from a NORM-contaminated site containing radium encapsulated in barium sulfate (BaSO4-Ra), 2) determination of soil composition using chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, 3) preparation of baseline solubility parameters using different acids of varying normalities, 4) subjecting the remaining soil to rapid accelerated aging processes, and 5) analyzing changes to solubility parameters at various stages in the aging process. Solubility trends will be determined as a function of parameters from the aging process, acid type, and acid normality or pH in order to evaluate the aging effect. An attempt will also be made to determine the extent to which the BaSO4 matrix degrades over time resulting in the release of a soluble radium species into the environment.