Lab Canada

$116,500 in grants support prototype development for radiation detecting triage mask

Oshawa, ON – A new radiological triage mask (RTM) has the ability to quickly identify radiation contaminants in patients, including individuals who may be the victims of radiological dispersal devices, which are also known as dirty bombs.

The RTM, which is the result of two years of research conducted by Dr Ed Waller, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), has received $116,500 in grants. UOIT’s Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization (OTTC) has filed for patent protection in the United States and a full worldwide patent application will be filed this fall.

A key concern with the release of a dirty bomb is the ability to quickly identify and treat those who have been exposed to radioactive isotopes. If a largely populated area, such as a stadium, is targeted, hospitals may become overloaded with individuals who may not be contaminated and may impede the immediate diagnosis of someone who has been affected.

The project has been awarded a number of grants, including $74,500 from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), and $25,000 and $10,000 awards from the Ontario Partnership for Innovation and Commercialization (OPIC). The grants will be used to further develop the prototype into a marketable product, which is expected to be completed in the next year. In addition, as part of a thesis project, a team of students was awarded $3,500 from the OCE Connections program. The award was matched by the Department of National Defence (DND).

“We are extremely pleased with the funding that this project has received,” said Dr Waller. “This mask holds immense potential to save lives and ultimately, tax dollars, by providing EMS workers with a valuable life-saving tool that can eliminate unnecessary hospitalization.”

The main benefits of the RTM are its ease of use and quick screening capability. Currently only trained professionals can operate radiation detectors, which can slow down the detection process. The RTM’s design is based on that of oxygen masks, a device quite familiar to EMS responders, and is a straightforward tool that will ensure accurate readings. The device is placed over the patient’s nose and mouth and detects radiation from material present on the face, which is in direct proportion to the amount inhaled. The RTM determines the type of exposure and amount inhaled, providing the ability to quickly establish a course of treatment.