Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Warren Hein


Since its beginning the universe has been contaminated with a host of radioactive isotopes. Of these radioactive isotopes, many have completely decayed away due to their short half-lives. The remaining naturally occurring isotopes are members of long decay chains such as uranium-238, uranium-235 and thorium-232. The natural background radiation in the environment is primarily due to the decay of these remaining isotopes. This background radiation is normally harmless to the existance of life unless concentrated amounts are received. Because of its chemical compatibility with calcium, radioactive radium isotopes are the most health hazardous of all naturally occurring isotopes. Radium chemically replaces calcium in the body where it is then deposited in bone tissue. These acute deposits of radium can cause severe health effects. Radium enters the body through the food and water one consumes, water being the major source of radium to the system. Accurate detection of radium-226 and radium-228 (the major radioactive isotopes of radium) in water is a difficult, tedious and lengthy procedure. However, McCurdy and Mellor of Yankee Atomic Electric Company Environmental Laboratory have developed a new method which has a number of advantages over the present Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Radon Emanation Method. Cost, labor and speed are only a few of these advantages. The new Rapid Simultaneous Scintillation Counting Method (RSSC) developed by McCurdy and Mellor and the Radon Emanation Method were used to analyze water samples for their radium-226 content. The methods were then compared in three separate categories: accuracy, precision and their ability to meet Federal Regulations. The objectives of this research are to establish the performance of each method, and to compare. the RSSC method to the Radon Emanation method in the mentioned categories for the detection of radium-226.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water -- Analysis.
Scintillation counters.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University