Smartphones just keep getting smarter as more and more apps are developed, and now, they may soon be able to detect radiation in food.
Tech firm Universal Detection Technology (UDT), in collaboration with Honeywell International, one of the nation’s larger defense contractors, is working to develop a smartphone app that can measure and detect radiation levels in food. The concern that some of what we may be consuming could be contaminated with radiation has risen dramatically in wake of the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi following an earthquake-generated tsunami a year ago.
The Homeland Security News Wire said the app would integrate with UDT’s Cesium Iodide Scintillator (CIS) to work on smartphones. The CIS is a portable, handheld device that can detect unhealthy and toxic levels of iodide on most surfaces, including food.
In order to make the technology more consumer friendly, both firms are working to develop a smartphone app that would utilize Bluetooth technology to detect a food item’s gamma radiation levels. The app would send the data to the smartphone’s CIS to measure and process the detected levels.
In addition, the app contains a social media function that allows users to share the data online.
Contaminated food from Japan already found
Japanese consumers have become wary of consuming local radiation-contaminated foods including beef, dairy, spinach, baby food, and fish that were found on store shelves. Some of the foods contained more than five times the legal limit of Iodine 131.
In fact, just days after the quake-damaged reactors began spewing radiation, Japanese authorities found unsafe levels of radiation in spinach and milk at farms as far as 90 miles away from Fukushima.
Japanese officials tried then to downplay the finding. Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said the levels of radioactivity found in the spinach, if consumed over the course of a year, would only equal what people receive during a single CAT scan, and that the levels found in the milk would only amount to a fraction of that amount. Yet it was enough for Japanese officials to order all farms within 19 miles of the damaged plants to temporarily halt milk shipments.
A separate report found that some radiation-tainted food was detected leaving Japan in the days following the disaster. Authorities in Taiwan who were checking for food radiation discovered a shipment of fava beans from southern Japan had been contaminated.
“The beans may have been contaminated when they were airlifted to Tokyo’s Narita Airport for a transit shipment to Taiwan,” Tsai Shu-chen, an official with the Food and Drug Administration, said.
‘I don’t trust the government’
“Radiation-contaminated beef has turned up on the market. Broccoli, spinach and shiitake, too — all discovered after they were already on sale. So I don’t trust the government anymore,” suburban housewife Toshiko Yasuda, who lives 170 miles from the damaged reactors, told CBS News in November. As a result, she buys little from the grocery stores anymore.
Area and regional fisherman assert their seafood is safe, and point to regular radiation checks that prove as much. But it hasn’t stopped them from losing customers. In fact, since the accident, consumers at some local fish markets are less than half of what they were before the disaster.
As for the smartphone app, experts say radiation can be difficult to detect without sophisticated equipment. Turning the handheld electronic devices into portable radiation detectors, however, will protect users from consuming even trace amounts of radiation which, over the course of several years, could lead to the development of some cancers.
Also, scientists say that while adults are not likely to suffer many health problems from consuming Fukushima-tainted produce and seafood, babies and children face a bigger risk because their bodies are still developing and, as such, are particularly vulnerable.
Embris Nuresalandis – 125150307111013,