About 95% of wild mushroom samples collected in Germany over the past six years still show radioactive contamination from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, albeit not exceeding legal limits, the German food safety regulator said Friday.
Elevated concentrations of the isotopes cesium-137 and cesium-134, which are characteristic of the Chernobyl explosion, have been detected, especially in southern Germany, the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) said.
However, none of the 74 samples tested exceeded the legal limit of 600 becquerels of radiation per kg.
The Chernobyl reactor, located on the territory of what is now Ukraine, released tons of nuclear waste into the atmosphere, spreading radioactivity across the continent and causing a surge in cancer diseases in the immediate region.
The BVL said the radioactive material is trapped in forests because their ecosystems recycle nutrients so efficiently, which means wild mushrooms will be contaminated for much longer than other agricultural products.
Concerns about the long-term consequences of nuclear disasters sparked public opposition to nuclear power, and in Germany, shortly after the accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, the decision was made to abandon it altogether.