Chernobyl fallout in Mushrooms!

On the 26th of April, 1986, reactor number 4 at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. As a result, a large amount of radioactive isotopes was released into the environment contaminating most of eastern Europe.

Today, 35 years later, most radioactive isotopes with short half-life have decayed with only 6 isotopes remaining in significant amounts from which Caesium 137 and Strontium 90 make the top of the list.

Recently, my good friend was in Belarus and during his trip, he collected some local mushrooms.

Why do I bring this up? Because mushrooms, particularly bay boletes, accumulate heavy metals. This means that if they grew in an area contaminated by radioactive fallout then there should be a detectible amount of Caesium 137 in them.

Belarusian mushrooms

When measured with Ludlum Model 3 Survey Meter with a Johnson Pancake probe, the reading was around 150CPM which is over 3x the normal background radiation.

In order to make sure that the activity coming from these mushrooms is caused by Chernobyl fallout, I did a Gamma spectroscopy using RAYSID gamma spectrometer.

After a few minutes, a narrow peak started to form at 662keV, which is very characteristic for Caesium 137 which means that these mushrooms are contaminated by nuclear fallout from Chernobyl.

Gamma spectroscopy of the radioactive mushrooms (without lead castle)

Since I am not an expert, I can not tell you whether or not eating such mushrooms is safe but if you ask me, I do prefer non-radioactive ones!

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