How to detect radioactive food

Geiger counter

Geiger counter

Radiation from the Japanese nuclear accident comes from two main sources, radioactive iodine (iodine 131) and radioactive cesium (cesium 137). Radioactive iodine emits beta and gamma radiation. (see Journal of Clinical Oncology) and radioactive cesium emits gamma radiation. (USDA paper).  Radiation cannot be detected directly with human senses. However, gamma radiation can easily be detected by a Geiger counter. This means that a Geiger counter that is sensitive enough to detect background radiation should be able to adequately test food for both radioactive cesium and radioactive iodine.  A person could detect whether he or she had personally been contaminated by following procedures such as those laid out by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education but seeking professional assistance is probably advisable if you have a serious concern about contamination.

See related article: How to make a geiger counter