Quantification of the activity of tritium produced during the routine synthesis of (18)F fluorodeoxyglucose for positron emission tomography

C Marshall, M A Talboys, S Bukhari, W D Evans
Journal of Radiological Protection: Official Journal of the Society for Radiological Protection 2014, 34 (2): 435-44
Gamma emitting radioactive by-products generated during the cyclotron irradiation of (18)O labelled water by protons to produce (18)FDG (fluorodeoxyglucose) for positron emission tomography are well characterised. However, the production of tritium ((3)H) through the (18)O(p,t)(16)O nuclear reaction has not been investigated in detail. The aim of this study was to measure tritium activity produced during a large number of (18)FDG production runs in order to obtain a better perspective on its impact on radioactive waste management, particularly as regards storage and disposal. Tritium was assayed by liquid scintillation counting in recovered (18)O water from 24 separate production runs. The mean (SD) values of activity and activity concentration were 170 (20) kBq and 81 (8) kBq ml(-1) respectively. Both quantities were positively correlated with the activity of (18)F. Tritium was detected in much lower concentration in water used to rinse the target vessel. The activity of tritium is such that it is exempt from regulatory control and may be combined with bulk non-active waste for disposal as Very Low Level Waste. However, variations in the irradiation conditions or the procedures for the collection of recovered water might result in its classification as Low Level Waste, necessitating a more complex disposal regime.

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