Record levels of radiation found in Swedish wild boar 32yrs after Chernobyl
The radioactive animal, shot in Tierp Uppsala County on the eastern coast of Sweden, was found to have a radiation level of 39,706 becquerel per kilo by the Radiation Safety Authority. The safe limit set by the Swedish Food Agency for meat consumption is 1,500 becquerel per kilo.
“It is the highest value we have measured since we invited hunters to send us samples,” Paul Andersson at the Radiation Safety Authority told Jaktjournalen.
He added that two recent tests from areas near Tärnsjö in Uppsala County reported levels of 15,000 becquerel per kilo.
Radiation levels vary greatly in samples of wild boars taken from the same region. Another sample from Tierp of a female wild boar taken last December recorded only 8 becquerel per kilo.
One theory is that this particular male wild boar came upon a feast of truffles underground with high radiation levels while foraging for wild mushrooms, Andersson said.
Roland Palm, who shot the 45 kilo boar on January 13, said he was shocked at the result. “I thought I was going to die, that must be almost luminescent,” he told Jaktjournalen.
In October 2017 a boar with radiation levels of 16,000 becquerel per kilo was measured in Tärnsjö. Scientists said at the time this had met a new record.
The Radiation Authority is encouraging hunters who have obtained wild boar meat in areas affected by the fallout from Chernobyl to submit their samples for testing free of charge. Some 200 samples have been submitted so far.
The project is aimed at increasing awareness of cesium-137 levels in wild boar – an area that has been sparsely studied in Sweden.
“When wild boars settle in areas with Chernobyl accident deposits, it is reasonable to expect cesium levels exceeding the sales limit set by the National Food Administration,” the Radiation Safety Authority said.
There were no wild boar roaming the areas most affected by the Chernobyl fallout in 1986, but in recent years they have been migrating north to the areas worst affected. Meanwhile radiation levels in animals like reindeer and elk in Sweden have been falling.
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