Federal Office warns of radioactive wild mushrooms! (Autumn mushroom season in Germany)


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Picking wild mushrooms is a popular tradition in Germany in autumn. However, the BfS warns some regions of Germany should avoid collecting wild mushrooms because they are radioactively contaminated.

The 2021 wild mushroom season began in autumn. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection is currently warning of radioactive fungi. Regions in southern Germany are particularly affected. Frightening: The cause of the pollution was already three decades.

wild mushrooms

Even 35 years after the Chernobyl reactor disaster – native wild mushrooms are still contaminated with radioactivity

It was an incredible catastrophe for nature: Even 35 years after the Chernobyl reactor accident, the consequences are still measurable – even in Germany. In southern Germany in particular, there are areas in which certain types of fungus have greatly increased amounts of the radioactive isotope cesium-137, warns the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in a current press release.

“The radioactive cesium still comes from the reactor accident in Chernobyl,” explains BfS President Inge Paulini. Because, according to the BfS, cesium-137 has only decayed to a little more than half since the reactor catastrophe in 1986 (the physical half-life is around 30 years).

BfS Bulletin on contaminated wild mushrooms and game

  • Certain mushroom and wild species are still heavily contaminated with cesium-137 in some areas of Germany due to the Chernobyl reactor disaster .
  • The contamination of fungi depends both on the cesium-137 content in the vicinity of the mycelium and on the specific accumulation capacity of the respective fungus species.
  • Game is contaminated very differently depending on the region and animal species.
  • If you want to reduce your personal burden, you should refrain from excessive consumption of game and mushrooms you have collected yourself in the more heavily polluted areas of Germany.
wild mushrooms

Radioactive contamination in fungi – these native varieties are particularly affected

Edible mushrooms that grow in the wild are stressed differently depending on the species and location. Elevated cesium values ​​showed, for example:

  • Bread stubble mushrooms,
  • different species of snail,
  • yellow-stemmed trumpet chanterelles,
  • or chestnut boletus.

In recent years, values ​​of up to several thousand Becquerel (unit of measure for the activity of a radioactive substance) per kilogram have been measured in certain edible mushrooms, explains the Federal Office. In Germany, it is generally not allowed to bring food with a radio cesium content of more than 600 on the market.

Because of controls, anyone who buys wild mushrooms can generally trust that the limit value will not be exceeded. However, this guideline value does not apply to mushrooms collected for personal consumption.

Cesium-137 in food

The intake of 80,000 Becquerel cesium-137 with food corresponds to an exposure of about 1 millisievert in adults.

The consumption of 200 grams of mushrooms with 3,000 Becquerel cesium-137 per kilogram results in a burden of 0.008 millisievert .
This corresponds to the radiation exposure on a flight from Frankfurt to Gran Canaria.

wild mushrooms

Not only because of possible radiation exposure – who shouldn’t eat wild mushrooms

If wild mushrooms are consumed in the usual quantities, the additional radiation exposure is comparatively low, explains the Federal Office. In the more polluted areas of Germany, mushroom lovers should still refrain from collecting. According to a report by the dpa , the Federal Environment Ministry generally recommends not eating more than 250 grams of wild mushrooms per week.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should also avoid wild mushrooms. Not only because of possible radiation exposure, but also because of the heavy metals. 

Which areas should be more cautious?

The south of Germany – especially southern Bavaria and the Bavarian Forest – is particularly hard hit by the Chernobyl fallout in 1986 . In recent years, values ​​of up to several thousand Becquerel per kilogram have been measured in game and certain edible.


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