Spiderwort Plant Detects Radiation
Concern over the spread of radiation from Japan has reached around the world. Nuclear plants are facing potential meltdown, and a resulting release of massive amounts of radiation.
As the crisis becomes more dire by the hour, everyone is starting to pay close attention. Several nuclear experts are predicting that low-level radiation could reach the U.S. within seven to ten days.
Fortunately, many gardeners already have the means to detect radiation in their landscape. Right here in Central Florida, there is a commonly grown landscape plant that is a biological indicator of low-level exposure to radiation.
In a scientific study conducted by the Laboratory of Genetics at Kyoto University in Japan, the flower parts of this plant will change color after radiation exposure. In Tradescantia ohiensis (commonly known as Spiderwort), the filament hairs on the stamens will mutate from blue to pink after as little as 3.6 roentgen total exposure, given at a low exposure rate of 12 micro-roentgen/hr. The researchers concluded that this visible biological mutation demonstrated that safety standards for radiation exposure were inadequate.
Radiation levels in Tokyo, a city of 13 million people, have already far exceeded the amount required to induce these mutations. Over recent days, radiation experts have gone from saying there was no risk in the U.S. to now saying there is “low risk”. As this biological radiation detector shows, even very low levels of radiation will produce cellular mutation.
Keep an eye on your Spiderworts!