April 2, 2011 by staff
Radioactive Boars, (AP) – For a look at how long you can ride radioactivity, consider feral pigs in Germany. A quarter century after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union led to a radiation cloud across Europe, these animals are radioactive enough that people are urged not to eat. And the pigs eat mushrooms unfit for consumption either.
Germany’s experience shows what you would expect to Japan – problems at the plant in Fukushima Dai-ichi worse.
German wild boar roams the forests near 950 miles (1,500 kilometers) from Chernobyl. However, the amount of radioactive cesium-137 within their tissues often recorded dozens of times beyond the recommended limit for consumption and thousands of times above normal.
“I still feel the consequences of the Chernobyl fallout here,” said Christian Kueppers, a radiation expert with the German Institute for Applied Ecology in Freiburg.
“Pollution is not going to disappear in the short term – with cesium half-life is approximately years, the radioactivity decreased only slightly in the coming years.”
Cesium can accumulate in the body and are considered high risk for other cancers. However, researchers who studied Chernobyl could not find an increase in cancers may be linked to cesium.
Cesium also accumulates over time on the ground, making them more susceptible boars they whine through the forest floor with their mouths and feed on the types of fungi that tend to store the radioactive, ministry spokesman Environment Hagbeck Thomas said.
The problem is so common that now all boars bagged by hunters in the affected regions have to be checked for radiation. Government compensation for the youth hunters must be destroyed has been added to euro460, 000 (and 650 000) during the past 12 months, Hagbeck said.
“It’s very sad when they have to pull the meat which is usually extremely tasty,” said Joachim Reddemann, managing director of the state hunting association in Bavaria.
Thousands of dead pigs in southern Germany each year reported unacceptable levels of radiation. It is calculated in Becquerels, a measure of radiation emitted. Anything beyond Becquerels per kilogram is not recommended, according to Federal German Office for Radiation Protection.
Normal meat has an average contamination of 0.5 Bq / kg, and a German who typically consume about Becquerels per year from vegetables and dairy products, the agency said.
About percent of the 50,000 wild boars are hunted over the legal limit radioactivity, Reddemann said. And the government office for radiation protection says that some fungi have been recorded up to 20 times the legal limit of cesium.
Further, in France, there is still soil contamination, but levels have dropped significantly. Now rarely found dangerous levels of cesium in wild boar and fungi, said radiation expert Philippe Renaud of the French Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety.
In Austria, too, traces of radioactive cesium remaining in the soil. Along with wild boar and mushrooms, deer have been affected – some evidence at least five times the legal limit, the agency of that country, says the environment.
Japan’s Fukushima plant has not yet filtered almost as much radiation as Chernobyl, but the authorities have banned the sale of milk, spinach, cabbage and other surrounding regions as a precaution.
European officials insist that the meat from time to time eating contaminated pork or mushrooms do not pose an immediate risk to health. Public health agencies tend to be conservative in setting limits for radioactivity in food.
Eating grams of mushrooms tested seven times the legal limit of cesium, for example, amount to the same altitude radiation exposure taken during a flight of 2,000 miles, according to the German Office for Radiation Protection.
In Austria, the authorities say that the consumption of the likely amount of pounds of contaminated pork which is 10 times the legal limit of cesium amount to two thirds of normal intake of the annual radiation of an adult for food.
However, the possibility of exposure is not going away anytime soon.
“We assume that hunting will continue to be affected similarly to 2025 and then recede very slowly,” said Reddemann, the Bavarian hunting association. “The problem definitely still around the next years, and Chernobyl will remain a problem for our children and grandchildren.”
Veronika Oleksyn in Vienna and Camille Rustici in Paris contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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