Device can check for radiation exposure by looking at tooth enamel

Here's a device that could help test for radiation exposure in Japan.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Scientists discovered that men born in the 1960s, who later died from cancer, had twice as much radioactive strontium in their baby teeth than men who were still living.

Teeth can tell a lot about a person's radiation exposure. Dr. Harold Swartz, professor of radiology and medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, thinks his device could be useful in testing people exposed to radiation near the plant in Japan.

It's called the electron paramagnetic resonance dosimeter, and it can check tooth enamel for signs of radiation.

According to WMUR, Swartz said:

"The changes in the tooth enamel caused by radiation are permanent. They don't change over time. So that allows us to make these measurements at any time after the exposure."

The prototype weighs 60 pounds. However, the professor is working on upgrading the device, so it can check for radiation exposure through clipped fingernails and nails attached to the human body.

The device is still in the lab. However, Swartz has bigger plans for the device.

Previously, Swartz said in a statement:

“It looks like we’re going to get funded by [the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] … in the order of $30-35 million distributed over five years for us to produce an actual device,” he said.

That's not the only device he's working on. Swartz is designing a medical tattoo, hoping to optimize radiation treatment for cancer using the principles of electron paramagnetic resonance.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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