ALMERA Proficiency Tests

  
IAEA proficiency tests and interlaboratory comparison exercises are organized on a regular basis specifically for the members of the ALMERA network. These exercises are designed to monitor and demonstrate the performance and analytical capabilities of the network members, and to identify gaps and problem areas where further development is needed. At least one exercise is organized per year by the IAEA for the ALMERA network.

A specificity of the ALMERA proficiency tests is the possibility given to the ALMERA members to report their results on gamma-emitting radionuclides in a very short time frame, i.e. 3 days, as this would be required for emergency response.

The IAEA proficiency tests and interlaboratory comparison exercises are listed in the table below:

Year

ALMERA proficiency test/interlaboratory comparison

Participants

Member States

2005

ALMERA proficiency test

53

37

2005

Soil sampling interlaboratory comparison

10

10

2006

Gamma emitting RNs in water, soil and grass

38

29

2007

Artificial and natural RNs in water, soil and spinach

58

46

2007

Po-210 determination in water

36

30

2008

Naturally occurring radionuclides in phosphogypsum

49

40

2009

Gamma emitting RN in simulated air filters

69

46

2010

Ra-226 in soil and natural radionuclides in water

46

36

2011

Natural and artificial RNs in soil and water

57

41

2012

Natural and artificial RN in water, hay and soil

63

44

2013

Man-made and natural radionuclides in water and flour samples

76 49
2014

Anthropogenic radionuclides in water, seaweed and sediment sample

71 49


Ongoing ALMERA Proficiency Test


2014 ALMERA Proficiency test (IAEA-TEL-2014-04)

Summary: The proficiency test consists of three water samples, one seaweed sample, one sediment sample and one water sample from oil field. The participating laboratories are requested to analyse anthropogenic and natural gamma-emitter radionuclides, Sr-90, Ra-226, U-238, U-235 and U-234 in the water samples, gamma-emitter radionuclides in the seaweed and sediment samples, and Ra-226 in the water sample from oil field.

Past ALMERA Proficiency Test

2013 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of man-made and natural radionuclides in water and flour samples

Summary: The proficiency test consisted of three water samples and one flour sample. The participating laboratories were requested to analyse man-made and natural gamma emitting radionuclides in water samples, and Cs-134 and Cs-137 in the flour sample.

2012 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of natural and artifical radionuclides in water, hay and soil 

Summary: The proficiency test consisted of three water samples, one hay sample and one soil sample. The participating laboratories were requested to analyse natural and anthropogenic gamma emitting radionuclides in water samples, Cs-134 and Cs-137 in the hay sample, and Sr-90, Cs-137, transuranium radioisotopes and natural radioisotopes in the soil sample.

2011 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of natural and artificial radionuclides in soil and water

Summary: The proficiency test set consisted of three water samples and one soil sample. The participating laboratories were requested to analyse H-3, Co-60, Cs-134, Cs-137 and Eu-152 in water and K-40, Sr-90, Cs-137, Pb-210, Ra-226, U-234, U-238, Pu-239+240 and Am-241 in soil.
Report (pdf)

2010 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of Ra-226 in soil and natural radionuclides in water

The proficiency test set consisted of five water samples and one soil sample. The participating laboratories were requested to analyse Ra-226, U-234, U-238 and gross alpha/beta in water and Ra-226 in soil.

2009 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of gamma emitting radionuclides in simulated air filters

Summary: The proficiency test set consisted of four filters. The participating laboratories were requested to analyse Mn-54, Co-57, Fe-59, Co-60, Zn-65, Cd-109, Ba-133, Cs-134, Cs-137, Eu-152 and Am-241 in filters 01, 02 and 03. The participating laboratories were provided with a control filter 04 containing only Co-60 and Ba-133 with known activities to the participants to be used as a control for the efficiency calibration. 69 participants from 46 countries participated to the proficiency test. 79% of all reported results obtained acceptable scores and only 11% of all reported results failed to meet the proficiency test criteria.
Report (pdf)

2008 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of naturally occurring radionuclides in phosphogypsum

Summary: The participating laboratories were requested to analyse gross alpha, gross beta, Ra-226, U-234 and U-238 in water samples and Pb-210, Ra-226, Th-230, U-234 and U-238 in a phosphogypsum sample. This proficiency test provided the possibility to improve the ALMERA members’ comparability and reliability of their analytical determinations of natural radionuclides in environmental matrices. In conclusion it is important to mention that in all organized proficiency tests it was evident that the ALMERA laboratories performance was better that the population of laboratories worldwide in terms of rapid responding and the accuracy of the results. The proficiency test results showed that further efforts should be invested in the development of standard and rapid methods to improve analytical performance of ALMERA network.
Report (pdf)

2007 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of Po-210 in water

Summary: The Po-210 poisoning event which occurred in November 2006 brought into focus a number of issues, including the capacity of laboratories of ALMERA to rapidly and accurately determine Po-210 in environmental samples. A number of requests were received from ALMERA members to address this issue. Responding to these requests, this proficiency test on the determination of Po-210 in water was conducted in the frame of the ALMERA network. The aim was to gather information on the current state of practice for Po-210 measurements at various levels in aqueous samples.
Report (pdf)

2007 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of artificial and natural radionuclides in water, soil and spinach

Summary: In this ALMERA proficiency test 1546 measurement results in rapid and long term reporting modes were submitted to the IAEA from 58 laboratories belonging to 46 different Member States. Given the degree of difficulty of the proficiency test and the wide range of analytes, the overall evaluation showed a good level of performance, where 78% of all reported results including the transuranic nuclides fulfilled the proficiency test criteria.
Report (pdf)

2006 ALMERA proficiency test on the determination of gamma emitting radionuclides in water, soil and grass

Summary: In this proficiency test 677 results were reported to the IAEA from 38 laboratories belonging to 29 different countries. The participants’ data along with the statistical performance evaluation were compiled and reported to all participants. 30 laboratories reported within the agreed deadline for the rapid reporting measurement (three working days). The overall evaluation showed that 78% of all reported results fulfilled the proficiency test.
Report (pdf)

2005 ALMERA soil sampling interlaboratory comparison exercice

Summary: The soil sampling intercomparison exercise took place from 14 to 18 November 2005 in an agricultural area qualified as a ‘reference site’ in the frame of the SOILSAMP international project, funded and coordinated by the Italian Environmental Protection Agency (ISPRA) and aimed at assessing the uncertainty associated with soil sampling in agricultural, seminatural, urban and contaminated environments. The ‘reference site’ is characterised in terms of spatial/temporal variability of trace elements. The trace elements present at the reference site are of natural and anthropogenic origins. In the long term after deposition, the behaviour of long-lived radionuclides in soil can be expected to be similar to that of some stable trace elements and the distribution of these trace elements in soil can simulate the distribution of radionuclides. In addition, soil sampling procedures for radionuclides derive from techniques used in agriculture and engineering. For all these reasons, the ‘reference site’ characterized in term of trace elements can be used to compare the soil sampling strategies developed for radionuclide investigations by the ALMERA laboratories.

Due to the limited extent of the reference sampling area and considering that collaborative field studies require considerable organisational efforts, for the current year exercise only 10 ALMERA Institutions were selected to participate in the sampling exercise.
Report (pdf)

2005 ALMERA proficiency test

Summary: The proficiency test set consisted of four soil samples. The participating laboratories were requested to analyse alpha emitting radionuclides and Sr-90 in three soil samples and gamma emitting radionuclides in one soil sample. 53 participants from 37 countries participated to the proficiency test. 68% of all reported results for the determination of gamma emitting radionuclides obtained acceptable scores and 58% for the determination of alpha emitting radionuclides.
Report (pdf)

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