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New cell phone in Japan can identify radiation levels


Japanese residents are very worried about radiation since last year’s nuclear meltdown. This concern is as rampant as ever – even 14 months since the tsunami hit northeastern Japan and set off meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. As a result, according to The Associated Press, a new cell phone was developed that can track radiation levels in the ground and air.

Softbank Corp., which is the carrier for the iPhone and iPad in Japan, is selling the new device, Pantone 5 mobile, in July. The device shows microsieverts-per-hour number on the display with a push of a button. Softbank president Masayoshi Son publicly opposes nuclear power and is an advocate for renewable and solar energy, according to the news source. He decided to help develop the phone after receiving a number of requests from families in Japan – especially mothers with small children.

Sharp Corp., the Japanese electronics maker, designed the device, which works like a dosimeter and measures the radiation around the person. People around the country are still experiencing higher levels than 1 millisievert a year, which was set as safe before the disaster. Cancer risk has been proven for exposure higher than 100 millisieverts each year or above, but there has been no proven link for lower levels, the media outlet reports. However, that does not mean these levels are safe and will not cause cancer eventually.

This new device is even more sought after since local residents were not told by the government about radiation levels or the locations of high radiation for a long time. The government claims this is due to monitoring posts being knocked out by the power outage. This cell phone tracking software cannot only monitor radiation, but it can also keep an eye on the nuclear power industry, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“If more people have their own radiation monitors, it will make it more difficult for the government to say, ‘There’s no data about radiation.’ That will serve as a greater check on the government,’ Shunichi Ono, a former reactor engineer at Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, told the news source when asked about the growing market of radiation-measuring devices.