Radioactive contamination of fungi
Many people like to take a walk through the meadows and forests in the fall and bring home delicious mushrooms. But caution is in order here. In some areas, individual species of wild fungi are still radioactively contaminated more than 30 years after the Chernobyl reactor disaster.
According to experts, anyone who goes to pick mushrooms in the forest should inform themselves in advance about the radioactive contamination of wild mushrooms. (Image: pikselstock / stock.adobe.com)
The measurement results published by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) show that the effects of the Chernobyl reactor disaster can still be observed in Germany after 34 years. According to this, some species of wild mushrooms in some regions, especially in southern Germany, are still highly radioactive, reports the BfS in a press release.
Contaminated with radioactive cesium
Although radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl reactor disaster is only present in small amounts in most foods in Germany, some species of wild fungi, especially in southern Germany, can still be heavily contaminated with radioactive cesium. This shows the current BfS mushroom report.
This report summarizes the results of a monitoring program in which wild fungi are collected at selected locations and measured for their radioactive cesium (cesium-137) content.
“Anyone who buys wild mushrooms in stores doesn’t have to worry about radioactive cesium. A limit of 600 Becquerel per kilogram of fresh mass applies here ”, explains Inge Paulini, president of BfS.
“But when you’re picking mushrooms yourself, it’s worth taking a closer look. Especially in the Bavarian Forest or on the edge of the Alps, for example, bread thatch mushrooms, chestnut porcini mushrooms or yellow-stemmed trumpet chanterelles may have higher cesium levels, ”explains the expert.
“There is no health risk from eating these mushrooms, but if you leave them in the wild you can easily avoid unnecessary radiation exposure. There are many other types of fungi that only accumulate cesium-137 in small amounts.
Most polluted types of fungi
According to experts, the level of exposure to cesium-137 varies widely depending on the type of fungus and from place to place. Over the past three years, measured values of over 1000 Becquerel cesium-137 per kilogram of fresh mass have been found in the following fungi:
Bread thatch mushrooms Red brown bread thatch mushrooms, various types of snails, chestnut porcini mushrooms, yellow-stemmed trumpet chanterelles, silky red knot mushrooms
According to information, in 2019, in particular, bread mushrooms on the northern edge of the Bavarian Forest National Park had maximum values of more than 4000 Becquerel cesium-137 per kilogram of fresh mass.
As part of this year’s measurement campaigns, the BfS is investigating whether these surprisingly high measured values will also be confirmed in 2020 and what the causes are.
Safe mushroom species
BfS experts advise mushroom pickers in the most contaminated areas of Germany, such as the Bavarian Forest or the edge of the Alps, to find out about radioactive contamination from wild mushrooms.
According to information, rains occurred in these areas after the Chernobyl reactor disaster during the passage of radioactive air masses in early May 1986, which washed away radioactive particles from the atmosphere. Radioactive cesium can easily be taken up by wild fungi in forest soils.
According to the BfS, no one has to fear adverse health consequences from radioactivity if the harvested mushrooms themselves are consumed in the usual amounts (up to 250 grams per week).
The following are considered generally harmless with regard to their radioactive content:
Pear dusting Bleeding forest mushroom Mönchskopf Riesenporling Schopftintling
According to experts, cultivated mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms or cultivated mushrooms have very little radioactivity and can be eaten without hesitation. (a d)
Author and source information
This text conforms to the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.