Monday, May 6, 2013

Long Shadow of Chernobyl (3): Dried Mushrooms from Italy Still Found With 170 Bq/kg of Cesium-137


One of the scientific researchers that I follow who goes by the name of "Tomynyo" on Twitter has been measuring all sorts of things after the Fukushima nuclear accident - soil accumulated on top of his apartment complex in Yokohama City with high levels of radioactive cesium to bamboo shoots and mushrooms served in the kindergarten lunch.

His latest tweets is not about the domestic mushrooms but about mushrooms from Italy:

イタリア製のボルチーニ茸6検体を測定したところ全ての検体からセシウム137が検出されました。 最大は170.3±18.0Bq/kg、最低は31.6±6.2Bq/kgでした。スーパーの乾椎茸はほとんど九州産ですから、普通に買える乾椎茸より汚染されていると思います (link)

We measured 6 samples of [dried] Italian porcini mushrooms, and all samples were found with cesium-137. Maximum was 170.3±18.0Bq/kg, and minimum was 31.6±6.2Bq/kg. Dried mushroom you buy at a supermarket are almost all grown in Kyushu, so we think these Italian mushrooms are more contaminated than the dried Japanese mushrooms you can buy at a supermarket.

ボルチーニは水戻しした場合セシウム濃度は1/4になるそうです。... 3.11以前からそれなりの汚染された食品食べていた可能性があることは認識すべきです。(link)

If porcini mushrooms get rehydrated, the density of radioactive cesium would be one-fourths, we are told. We should recognize that we may have been eating food with certain levels of contamination even before March 11, 2011.


Just like the wood pellets from trees in Shikoku, Japan tested by one of my Twitter followers, cesium-137 is most likely from the atmospheric testing and the Chernobyl accident.

I happened on this video, supposed to be the raw footage of Chernobyl soon after the accident. I got scared watching workers with scant protection dumping loads of what looks like concrete debris:


Other "Long Shadow of Chernobyl" posts:

Long Shadow of Chernobyl: 224 Bq/kg of Cesium-137 in the Ashes from Burning Wood Pellets Made from Trees in Shikoku

Long Shadow of Chernobyl (2): German and Belarusian Researchers Say 64% of 229 Belarusian Children with High-Risk Thyroid Cancer in Complete Remission, 30% in Near-Complete Remission

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I live in Italy.
Could you please tell from where these porcini were collected?
Where they were bought from?

Anonymous said...

I too live in Italy and would love to have more information.
*mscharisma*

Tam B said...

Is there any way the Italian mushrooms could be showing contamination from Fukushima fallout? The fallout went around the world...

Anonymous said...

This needs a whole study, with detailed and checked facts, not a tweet...
mushrooms grow in caves, farms, in the wild or on logs (imported from ...?)
mushrooms and some herbs concentrate chemicals far more than trees. And we don't eat trees, do we ?
Although nuclear tests plumes went over the earth several times, Europe is far from Nevada, west of Russia and China, - but the Tchernobyl plume actually spiraled and spread all around the plant - thousands of miles away.
And, yes, trackability of goods.
"Dried mushroom you buy at a supermarket are almost all grown in Kyushu" - Really ? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, why are we sure that these are from Italy and why are we sure the cause is Chernobyl?

Maimai Kapono said...

Good question. I guess releases from different accidents have their own signatures which can tell them apart, but I did find this:

http://rt.com/news/fukushima-chernobyl-cesium-137-contamination-145/

May 24, 2012. "TEPCO’s new estimates suggest that its Fukushima reactor has released more than quadruple the amount of radioactive cesium-137 leaked during the Chernobyl disaster. But the method used to measure the damage may undervalue the hazard even further."

Anonymous said...

These days food marketed by Italian companies is sometimes coming from elsewhere; for example it was with some disappointment that I found out that the anchovies I usually buy (from a well known Italian maker) are coming from Albania (according to the glass jar label).

I have 40g of dried porcini in stock at home; I just double checked the packaging and they might have been packaged either in (A) Gorizia or (B) Rumania but I can not find any A or B mark on the label. Furthermore the location of the packaging facility says nothing about where the mushrooms are coming from so those mushrooms are on their way for a check :(

In Japan, mushrooms are sometimes grown on wood so if you grow mushrooms in Kyushu but use contaminated wood from elsewhere there is a chance that the mushrooms will be contaminated too. For good measure I stopped buying mushrooms altogether in Japan: although delicious their nutritional value is not as important as, say, milk and mushrooms are well known for their ability to absorb contamination.

By the way, as far as I know wild boars from the Black Forest are still off limits because of nuclear contamination (from Chernobyl).

Having said so, I am not going to merrily resume buying produce from Fukushima because I might have eaten contaminated porcini in the past: remember that risk increases with the dose you ingest so having potentially eaten contaminated food in the past is actually an additional reason to try to avoid eating even more.

Beppe

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Japanese wiki on porcini mushrooms says 90% of porcini consumed in Europe come from Poland. Japan seems to get the dried porcini from Italy, not from Poland.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%9D%E3%83%AB%E3%83%81%E3%83%BC%E3%83%8B

Maria Ferdinanda Piva said...

I'm Italian too, and I'm atonished. In 2005, Italian fresh and dryed mushrooms were analized by s Swiss laboratory. They had a radioactivity at most equal to 49 Bq/Kg (we are talking only about Caesium 137).

This in not the long shadow of Chernobyl. This is Chernobyl on steroids.

(sorry for my poor English)

(by the way, I am a blogger and wrote a post about this new: http://blogeko.iljournal.it/2013/nonostante-fukushima-i-funghi-italiani-sono-piu-radioattivi-di-quelli-giapponesi/72677 , with a link to Ex-skf, of course)

netudiant said...

In a world where European beef is often horse and where Chinese lamb sometimes is actually rat or fox, I'd not put much faith in labels.
These porcini could have come from anywhere, even Chernobyl's apparently thriving forests, no matter what's claimed on the package.

Anonymous said...

I'm Italian and I checked many times the label of the dried porcini. Generally you can see were the porcini are packed but not were the porcini are grown. i reckon the majority of porcini packed in Italy are from east europe, and I'm not surprised at all they have high levels of cesiun 137. By the way, you do not eat dried porcini every day and when you do, you generally eat very little: in a risotto for four people you may use 60grams of dried porcini; 15grams each I think you can survive.....

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:40PM, you can survive, probably. But when many food items you eat everyday are contaminated, like in Japan since March 11, 2011, things add up.

Anonymous said...

An honest seller at the open market labeled his fresh mushrooms from Ukraine; they were cheap ! Were they smuggled or legally passed, I don't know, anyway the EU raised the limits after Tchernobyl.
Trackability is somewhat porous. Just as packed "small" local snails are often cut in a much bigger species from China.
People in eastern France have stopped picking mushrooms in the wild. They don't like to talk about it, nor does the press.
May-be our Italian friends could know of something like this near the Alps.

William Marcus said...

Indeed, after Fukushima cast a shadow on our sourcing of food in Japan, we began to research more about the effects that Chernobyl had on food supplies in Europe (to see what could be learned); we asked our German friends who were very much invested in their 'Bio' food markets, which cater to the organic foodies, and they were completely baffled: while they knew very much about the pesticides and chemical fertilizers used on farmed goods, including how many years a farmland was 'clean' of said inorganics, they had no idea of the radioactive concentrations in the food as a result of Chernobyl. Of course they noted that certain mushroom picking areas were 'off limits' owing to Chernobyl contamination as well as wild boars (apparently 25% of Bavarian boars are inedible for radioactivity beyond government allowable limits), so I assume the government is diligent in keeping the markets free of 'grossly' contaminated food products. . .

The fact is that 600 bq/kg is allowed for most foodstuffs in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. So. . . porcini at 140 bq/kg? No problem as far as regulatory agencies are concerned. And as for accumulated dosages. . . not much in the way of media attention on this issue, although pre-internet accidents have a way of slipping down the memory hole. . .

So, what to do: things gathered or hunted from nature are obviously more suspect, and that would include porcini, as they are not cultivated as far as I know. Wild berries, venison, rabbit, boar: caveat emptor. There are ways to reduce the radiation from suspect foods: the Belarusians do this as common knowledge -- books have been published on this. [Off the top of my head, boiling vegetable with salt water, and discarding the water, and cutting off the tops and bottoms of certain root vegetables, etc., etc.]

Anonymous said...

laprimavera, I think the guys you are talking about in the video ("workers with scant protection dumping loads of what looks like concrete debris") are just the miners they got to build a tunnel under the reactor. The tunnel wasn't used for anything. Check The Battle of Chernobyl for more info on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9IePKlgj_g&t=41m32s

NYUltraBuddha said...

This is not the first time contaminated porcini mushrooms from Italy have been found in Japan. See this article from 2001 . http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2001/11/10/national/radiation-detected-in-mushrooms/#.UY3KN4v3Oqo

Anonymous said...

I visited a large supermarket in Italy and I could not find any porcini mushroom labeled as grown in Italy. Friends living there tell me that nowadays a lot of the porcini you can buy in Italy come from East Europe. Tellingly, their label typically says "packed in Italy".
Note that the the allowable contamination level in food has been raised in Europe shortly after Fukushima (thank you EU!).

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