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ORAU is partnering with Oklahoma State University to explore the possibility of using smartphones as personal emergency dosimeters to measure radiation exposure levels in case of radiological or nuclear mass-casualty incidents.

“Because hundreds or even thousands of people could be exposed to radiation during an event, timely assessment of an individual’s radiation dose is crucial for making the appropriate medical management decisions,” said Adayabalam Balajee, Ph.D., director of the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory and ORAU lead investigator for this research project. “Because most people carry smartphones with them, we thought measuring the amount of radiation exposure to the components of the phone might help determine how much radiation the person was exposed to; it would be a quicker and more streamlined approach versus coordinating individual blood tests for hundreds or thousands of people,” he said.

Funded by the ORAU-Directed Research and Development (ODRD) program, the research will verify the validity and accuracy of the radiation dose detected by physical dosimeters with biological dosimeters (blood tests), compared to the components of the smartphone. Physical dosimetry obtained by smartphones will be verified by the biodosimetry tools for estimating the whole-body absorbed radiation dose as well as doses to radiation-sensitive organs/tissues. This comparative study will determine the feasibility of using electronic devices, such as smartphones, for rapid individualized dose detection.

If successful, the smartphone is expected to provide an efficient triage tool for medical professionals for determining the most suitable treatment for people exposed during radiological/nuclear mass-casualty incidents. Appropriate dose reconstruction protocols will be developed for radiological/nuclear triage scenarios. 

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To learn more about the ORAU-Directed Research and Development program, contact the University Partnerships office at 865.576.6513 or