Evaluation of iodine speciation and 129I/127I ratios at low concentrations in environmental samples using IC-ICP-MS

Sara R. Kimmig, Christopher Thompson, Steven Baum, Christopher F. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Subterranean radioiodine contamination at the Hanford Site in Washington State is believed to be present as iodide, iodate, and organo-I species, with iodate being the predominant form. Because these species have different sediment-sorption characteristics, understanding their distribution is important for developing an accurate understanding of iodine migration in the subsurface. Herein, we report a novel, rapid technique for simultaneous iodine speciation (iodide/iodate) and isotopic ratio (129I/127I) measurements using ion chromatography (IC) joined with collision/reaction cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), collectively referred to as IC-ICP-MS. This approach employs online dynamically regenerated eluent suppression post chromatographic separation of the samples and collision cell technology, with pure oxygen as a collision gas for the active suppression of 129Xe (which naturally exists in the argon supplied to the ICP source) to rapidly (< 15 min) achieve precise and reproducible results. Speciated standard reference materials yielded detection limits for 127I of approximately 23.8 ng/L for iodate and 24.3 ng/L for iodide, and for 129I of approximately 1.81 ng/L for iodate and 2.62 ng/L for iodide. The method was demonstrated by analyzing groundwater samples from six wells from 129I-contaminated regions of the Hanford Site; iodate was the primary species for both 127I and 129I. Small quantities of 127I-iodide were also detected in most of the samples, but all 129I-iodide results were below the detection limit. An interference from molybdenum prevented the estimation of organo-iodine concentrations but did not affect the iodate and iodide results. This new analytical capability will enable rapid, simultaneous characterization of speciated inorganic iodine in vadose zone sediments and groundwater samples at levels below the US federal drinking water standard for 129I of 1 pCi/L (~ 5.6 ng/L).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-937
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Pollution
  • Spectroscopy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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