Radiation persists in wild boars


Some radionuclides persist in the environment once released, contaminating the food chain, creating widespread long-term risk of radiation exposure. Radiocesium, which has been released from civilian reactor meltdowns like Chornobyl and Fukushima, but also from worldwide atomic testing, is one such radionuclide.

New research demonstrates that wild boars in Bavaria are not only contaminated by radiocesium from the Chornobyl meltdown and explosion which heavily blanketed this region, but also nuclear weapons fallout. Radiocesium from weapons can account for a significant amount, anywhere from 10% to 68% of the contamination found in boar meat depending on the sample. “[T]he median 137Cs contributions in boars from weapons fallout and Chornobyl are approximately 25 and 75%, respectively.” Radiocesium from Chornobyl remains, overall, a more significant contributor to wild boar contamination.

Radiocesium from the Fukushima meltdown in Japan continues to contaminate boar meat there, and radiocesium from atomic weapons tests continues to collect in honey in the eastern U.S. where no atomic tests were conducted.

In essence, the radiocesium from atomic testing has persisted in the environment for two physical half-lives and still contributes enough radioactivity to exceed the regulatory limit in combination with Chornobyl radiocesium, yet most studies to this point have only examined radiocesium from one source. These findings “demonstrate that the superposition of older and newer legacies of 137Cs can vastly surpass the impact of any singular yet dominant source and thus highlight the critical role of historical releases of 137Cs in current environmental pollution challenges.”

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