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Teeth Show Evidence of Radiation Exposure

March 3rd, 2010 · 1 Comment

Researchers at Howard University in Washington College of Dentistry believe that tooth enamel stores important data about a person’s exposure to radiation. The team is developing Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) to determine the level of free radicals in substances, including tooth enamel.

What will this information be used for? The hope is that EPR can assist medical workers in triaging patients or dividing victims of radiation exposure into classes by the amount of radiation received. The new technology is minimally-invasive and would provide data useful in treating people exposed to radiation in an accident or by a “dirty bomb,” which refers to a radiation dispersal device.

A tiny bit of tooth can be removed without damaging the remaining tooth. This sample is then analyzed with microwaves. Free radicals absorb the waves and allow a trained professional to measure the amount of free radicals in the sample.

Problem is, a dentist has to use dental tools to remove the enamel sample, and this isn’t practical in an emergency. Furthermore, EPR currently detects high levels of radiation, so samples from people with moderate or minimal exposure would not show an accurate reading. The Howard University researchers will continue to work on EPR with the goal of creating a machine that can produce higher-frequency microwave energy for quick and accurate results of various levels of radiation exposure.

At present, EPR can be used to assess a person’s radiation exposure throughout life, which will provide data for other studies, such as radiation exposure’s influence on cancer risk.

SOURCE: LiveScience

Tags: News

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Dr. Lansdowne // Mar 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    EPR useful device for dentists

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