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32 years after the Chernobyl reactor disaster: fungi are still radioactive
Fall time is mushroom time: Anyone who is currently on meadows and in forests to collect tasty mushrooms should exercise caution. Because, as measurement results show, some types of fungi are still highly radioactive even 32 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Be careful when collecting mushrooms
Many Germans love to roam through meadows and forests in autumn and bring delicious mushrooms home with them. But caution is required here. On the one hand there is a risk of confusion with toadstools and on the other hand some mushrooms in some regions are still heavily radioactive.
Effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
Measurement results, which the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) has published in two current reports, show that the effects of the Chernobyl reactor disaster can still be observed in Germany after 32 years.
According to this, individual wild mushroom species in certain regions of Bavaria are still heavily radioactive, reports the BfS in a statement.
For agricultural products as a whole, however, the impact of the Chernobyl reactor accident has decreased significantly and the current measurements are low.
Radioactive cesium measured in mushrooms
According to the information, a number of wild-growing edible mushrooms are still measuring significantly increased values of the radioactive cesium (cesium-137), which was released in Chernobyl after the GAU.
This emerges from the current BfS report "Radioactive contamination of mushrooms (as of 2017)".
For example, brown-slice and orange-colored snails or red-brown bread stubble mushrooms can have up to a few 1,000 becquerel (Bq) cesium-137 per kilogram of fresh mass.
"For some wild mushroom species, the all-clear cannot be given even more than three decades after the Chernobyl accident," said BfS President Inge Paulini.
"Our measurement results show that the radioactive contamination of these types of mushrooms is still very high in contrast to other foods."
Due to its half-life of around 30 years, only about half of the cesium-137 from the Chernobyl accident has decayed.
No health consequences to fear
As the BfE explains, more cesium-137 can be added to the body with a meal of wild mushrooms with higher levels of stress than with food from agricultural production within a whole year.
According to the experts, there is no fear of health consequences if wild mushrooms that have been collected are consumed in the usual quantities.
For mushrooms that are put on the market, a limit of 600 becquerels per kilogram must not be exceeded.
Different types of soils
According to the BfS, the highest levels of cesium-137 can be found in wild mushrooms in more contaminated smaller areas in the Bavarian Forest, in the Donaumoos southwest of Ingolstadt and in the Mittenwald region.
These areas were ten times more polluted by the reactor accident in 1986 than, for example, the north of Germany. In other regions of the republic, the levels in mushrooms are correspondingly lower due to the lower deposition of cesium-137.
The reason that wild mushrooms in the affected regions can be significantly more contaminated than agricultural products is due to the different nature of forest soils and soils used for agriculture.
The values of cesium-137 in agricultural products in Germany are currently in the range of only a few becquerels per kilogram and below.
In Germany, less than 100 Becquerel radiocesium per person per year is consumed with food from agricultural production.
Radioactive contamination of food
Overall, the radioactive contamination of food has declined significantly as a result of the Chernobyl accident.
This emerges from a current report on environmental radioactivity in Germany, in which the BfS and other federal control centers publish measurement results from 2014 to 2016.
For example, the values of cesium-137 in fish from inland waters in southern Germany have dropped by a factor of 200 since 1986.
With milk, the load is steadily decreasing and is at a low level.
And for drinking and groundwater, almost all measurements for radiocesium are very low and are far below the required detection limits. (ad)