Compact DD generator-based neutron activation analysis (NAA) system to determine fluorine in human bone in vivo: A feasibility study

Farshad Mostafaei, Scott P. Blake, Yingzi Liu, Daniel A. Sowers, Linda H. Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The subject of whether fluorine (F) is detrimental to human health has been controversial for many years. Much of the discussion focuses on the known benefits and detriments to dental care and problems that F causes in bone structure at high doses. It is therefore advantageous to have the means to monitor F concentrations in the human body as a method to directly assess exposure. F accumulates in the skeleton making bone a useful biomarker to assess long term cumulative exposure to F. This study presents work in the development of a non-invasive method for the monitoring of F in human bone. The work was based on the technique of in vivo neutron activation analysis (IVNAA). A compact deuterium-deuterium (DD) generator was used to produce neutrons. A moderator/reflector/shielding assembly was designed and built for human hand irradiation. The gamma rays emitted through the 19F(n,γ)20F reaction were measured using a HPGe detector. This study was undertaken to (i) find the feasibility of using DD system to determine F in human bone, (ii) estimate the F minimum detection limit (MDL), and (iii) optimize the system using the Monte Carlo N-Particle eXtended (MCNPX) code in order to improve the MDL of the system. The F MDL was found to be 0.54 g experimentally with a neutron flux of 7 × 108 n s-1 and an optimized irradiation, decay, and measurement time scheme. The numbers of F counts from the experiment were found to be close to the (MCNPX) simulation results with the same irradiation and detection parameters. The equivalent dose to the irradiated hand and the effective dose to the whole body were found to be 0.9 mSv and 0.33 μSv, respectively. Based on these results, it is feasible to develop a compact DD generator based IVNAA system to measure bone F in a population with moderate to high F exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2057-2067
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 19 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Monte Carlo simulation (MCNP)
  • deuterium-deuterium (DD) generator
  • fluorine
  • human bone
  • neutron activation analysis (NAA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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