Even 30 years after Chernobyl: Many fungi are highly radioactive

Mushrooms in parts of Germany are still radioactive
Many Germans are currently drawn to meadows and forests to collect tasty mushrooms. However, caution is required here: Some types of fungi are still heavily radioactive contaminated more than three decades after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Radioactively contaminated
Germany's forests could become a real paradise for mushroom pickers this year due to the weather. Many Germans love to roam through meadows and forests and bring delicious mushrooms home with them. But caution is required here. On the one hand, there is a risk of poisoning due to confusion, and on the other hand, many fungi are heavily contaminated in some regions - including radioactive.

Wild mushrooms in Germany are often heavily contaminated
The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) reported last year that many wild mushrooms in Germany are often heavily contaminated with mercury.

At the time, the BVL also pointed out that fungi that grow in southern Germany "can still be radioactive depending on the region and soil type".

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) is now reporting that this is still the case.

As the Office writes in a communication, measurement results published by the BfS show that some wild mushroom species in parts of Bavaria are still heavily contaminated with radioactive cesium-137, even more than three decades after the Chernobyl reactor accident.

Report is updated every year
With the help of the annually updated report, mushroom pickers can find out about the exposure to cesium-137.

The additional radiation exposure from wild mushrooms is therefore comparatively low, provided that they are consumed in normal amounts. There is a limit for wild mushrooms that are offered in the food trade.

Affected are, among others, the mushroom types brown slice and orange pickle snails, common earth thirds, bread stubble mushrooms, red-brown bread stubble mushrooms, chestnut boletuses and brown vagina stripes, which can still have up to a few 1,000 becquerel (Bq) cesium-137 per kilogram.

The highest levels of radio cesium in wild mushrooms are to be found in Germany in the extraordinarily highly contaminated smaller areas in the Bavarian Forest, in the Donaumoos southwest of Ingolstadt and in the Mittenwald region.

In other regions, such as northern Germany, significantly less cesium-137 had deposited after the Chernobyl accident in April 1986. The values ‚Äč‚Äčthere are correspondingly lower.

No health risk when consuming normal amounts
A single meal of wild mushrooms with higher levels of stress can contain more cesium-137 than consumers consume with food from agricultural production in a whole year.

If you eat your own collected mushrooms in normal amounts, you do not have to expect negative health effects due to the radioactivity content.

However, the German Nutrition Society also advises for other reasons to limit the consumption of wild mushrooms to 250 grams per week, because they can accumulate toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium.

Limit protects against health hazards
Wild mushrooms that exceed the limit value for radiocesium of 600 becquerels per kilogram must not be sold in Germany. This limit was introduced after the Chernobyl accident.

Official food surveillance randomly checks compliance with these. The BfS assumes that the strain in all edible mushroom species will slowly decrease further.

However, the radiocesium content of a mushroom type fluctuates very strongly from location to location: Even within small forest areas, the differences are generally much larger than the average decline from year to year. (ad)

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