Wild Mushrooms in Fukushima Tested Found As Contaminated As Mushrooms After Chernobyl

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“It’s not food any more, it’s simply radioactive materials“, as the young man at the Citizen’s Radioactivity Measuring Station in Fukushima City said of the radioactive mushroom in Germany’s ZDF program aired on August 9.

Wild mushroom harvested in a town in Fukushima found contaminated with 28,000 becquerels per kilogram.

According to the data from Fukushima Prefecture, 13,000 becquerels/kg of cesium-134, and 15,000 becquerels/kg of cesium-137 were detected from the mushroom.

The town, Tanakura-machi, is located at about 73 kilometers southwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Unfortunately, after Chernobyl many of the European mycorrhizal species considered as prized edibles contained unacceptably high levels of 137Cs (> 1,000 Bq/kg [dry weight]).



From Yomiuri Shinbun (9/3/2011):


Fukushima Prefecture announced on September 3 that 28,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from wild mushroom, Lactarius volemus, harvested in the mountains in Tanakura-machi. The level of radioactive cesium vastly exceeds the national provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg.


It is still early in the season for this particular mushroom and it is not sold in the market. The prefectural government notified the town and the distributors to voluntarily halt harvesting and shipping of wild mushrooms including Lactarius volemus.


According to the prefectural government, the mushroom was harvested on September 1. The government is going to test the mushrooms nearby for radioactive materials, and put up signs calling for voluntary halt on harvesting.


In Fukushima Prefecture, 3,200 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium has been detected from Lactarius volemus harvested in Furudono-machi. The prefectural government says, “We are surprised at the extremely high number. We will continue to investigate and identify the cause”.


The Chernobyl Impact

After Chernobyl, mushrooms and moss are two of the commonly used examples of how plants which absorb external materials (saturation functions) rather than ‘uptake’ it through the roots have been known to have much higher and more concentrated contamination levels.

Many fungi are long reported to be excellent bioindicators of Cs contamination. Mycorrhizal fungi are good bioindicators of 137Cs at moderate to low but not at high contamination levels.


A comparison was made of 134Cs and 137Cs contamination in fungi from eastern Europe and eastern North America. Mean activities of 25 Ukrainian, 6 Swedish, and 10 North American collections were 4,660, 9,750, and 205 Bq/kg (dry weight), respectively.

Samples collected in the Ukraine exhibited a wide range of Cs concentraions from 0 to 31,700 Bq/kg (dry weight).

The average residual 137Cs in the Ukraine was found to be about 860 Bq/kg compared to 280 Bq/kg in Sweden.

Additional measurements were made on samples from the Moscow, southern Belarus, and Yugoslavia/Bulgaria regions.

Significantly higher specific activities were observed in mycorrhizal species than in saprophytic and parasitic fungi.


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