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This portable pesticide detector offers a quick check of produce

| By Paul Grad

A micro portable pesticide detector for food analysis, called a Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector, has been developed by the Smart Microsystems Technology Center of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, Hsinchu City, Taiwan;

The detector is based on the absorption spectrum of chemical products, such as agricultural pesticides, and can indicate the level of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables within a few seconds. The device also features Bluetooth — a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices — and a wireless charger. Lamps on the wireless charger indicate the testing results. A red light indicates that pesticide levels seriously exceed standards, and that the fruits and vegetables should be vigorously washed before consumption. A yellow light means that there is also a high level of pesticides, but not as high as that shown by a red light. A green light means the amount of pesticide residue is either small or nonexistent and the item is safe to consume.

ITRI says the detector already addresses eight of the ten most widely used water-soluble pesticides in Taiwan. If used in conjunction with specialized fruit and vegetable cleaners, the detector can also be used to detect fat-soluble pesticides at levels up to 0.5 parts per million (ppm), and will indicate when cleansing is complete.

Since pesticide use varies among countries, future versions of the detector will be tailored to the needs of various markets, indicating the level of the pesticides commonly used in any particular country.