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Sweden worried about radioactive wild boars

About 31 years after the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, Sweden fears that packs of radioactive wild boars are moving north across the country.

In April 1986, part of the nuclear plant of Chernobyl, USSR, exploded with disastrous consequences for its direct surroundings. In addition, a cloud of radioactive dust was sent over Sweden – leading to recommendations not to eat wild berries or mushrooms for a long time.

Wild boars exceeding the safe levels of radiation

Although most flora and fauna have since recovered, the carcass of a recently shot wild boar was reported to have levels 10 times the safe level of radiation. That left hunters afraid to kill and eat the animals, reports the Swedish Television channel SVT.

The wild boars have been noted to migrate further north these days than they used to. Due to their eating habits of rooting deep in the ground, they are eating mushroom types that still contain relatively high levels of radioactive caesium-137. By consuming these mushrooms, the wild boars charge themselves radioactively.

Wild boars moving north in Sweden are found to have above safety-level values of radiation. Photo: Hans Hut
Wild boars moving north in Sweden are found to have above safety-level values of radiation. Photo: Hans Hut

Elks or deer usually, on the contrary, feed off the bushes.

6 boars below the safe limits

An environmental consultant told SVT that 1 wild boar, about 150 km north of Stockholm, was found to have a radiation level of 16,000 Becquerel/kg. He added that of the 30 samples of boars his team have tested this year, only 6 were below the safe limit of 1,500 Bq/kg.

Wild boars were reintroduced in southern Sweden in the 70s, some 200 years after they were eradicated. Farmers fear that the high level of radiation in the animals will stop hunters shooting them, causing the population to spiral out of control, damaging forests and crops. It is estimated there are about 250,000 of them nationwide.

Health risks are low

To SVT, analyst Pål Andersson of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, said: “I do understand the fear, but the health risk is low. One needs to consume impossible amounts of radioactive pork chops to run a higher cancer risk.”

He added that the animals themselves even continue to stay healthy. Their radioactivity, he said, would decrease as soon as the wild boars consume radiation-free species.

2 comments

  • Robin Smith

    Dear Sir,

    With all due respect, this is an incorrect statement by fact: "still contain relatively high levels of radioactive iodine"

    Iodine 131 has a half life of ~8 days. After 10 half lives there will be virtually nothing left of it, 80 days.

    Nevertheless, C137 has a half life of 30 years or so, so there will still be a significant though decreasing amount remaining.(~50% of the original fallout).

    Astonishingly what rarely gets discussed is whether this "safe level" if exceeded is harmful and at what point. And at what levels it is harmful when compared to background sources. You may want to look into the hypothesis of Radiation Hormesis where there's copious evidence suggesting these kinds of levels of ionising radiation have been seen to activate biological protection mechanisms. the problem for this science is it runs counter to scientific mainstream world view, which habitually accepts what is current as gospel, and anything bringing habitual ignorance under scrutiny is seen as mumbo jumbo.

    So not only will radiation hysteria increase populations, its scientifically possible the animals will live longer and re-produce more successfully. A double whammy for your special interest group. Hysteria is a difficult topic for dialogue, particularly when an industry is seeking protection.

    Yours,
    Robin Smith,
    The Systemic fiscal Reform Group, Cambridge, UK.

  • Vincent ter Beek

    Dear Mr Smith,
    Thank you for your comment. As for the iodine, thank you for notifying us. That is being corrected rightaway.
    Best regards,
    Vincent ter Beek
    Editor, Pig Progress

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