by European Geosciences Union EurekAlert
Published 25 Feb 2016
Some forest mushrooms, such as wild porcini, can accumulate dangerous levels of radioactivity from the soils they grow in. But until now it was unclear if the same was true for truffles, fungi that range among the most expensive foods in the world. Swiss and German researchers have analysed Burgundy truffles collected in central Europe and found they contain only negligible amounts of radioactive caesium, being safe for consumption. The results are published today (25 February) in Biogeosciences, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
The purpose of this post is to bring to the attention of interested readers a recently released report that provides comprehensive account of the environmental radiation surveillance activities conducted by Health Canada in the months immediately following the Fukushima accident. This report includes an assessment of the overall levels of contamination and resulting impacts to the health of Canadians. Contrary to irresponsible and inaccurate rumors that Health Canada suspended monitoring in the wake of the triple meltdowns, monitoring activities were, in fact, enhanced and expanded to increase the flow of information and improve understanding of the implications of the contamination for environmental and public health. While there was no discernible change in total background radiation a distributed system of monitoring stations and the rapid collection and measurement of environmental samples tracked the trace levels of atmospheric contamination across the country. The report concludes:
conservative estimates of the maximum individual dose from Fukushima was less than 0.0003 (1/ 3,000) of the typical annual dose for a Canadian owing to natural background sources
the additional dose resulting from Fukushima derived contamination is far less than the normal variation in dose from place to place in Canada
there are likely to be no health impacts related to this small, incremental dose
The purpose of this post is to give a brief overview of how the activity of radionuclides correspond to the concentration of radionuclides measured in environmental samples. There appears to be some confusion in the public and within the scientific community as to how units are used and the degree of their interchangeability. This post is somewhat technical but falls into the category of “In Case You’re Interested” (ICYI), an acronym I am shamelessly borrowing from a fine book (Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity) by one of my favorite writers David F. Wallace.