Radioactive cesium-137 in mushrooms

For today article I have chosen something which could be of interest for mushroom pickers in our dear Europe. People over forty probably remember nuclear disaster in Soviet Union Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986. Lot of articles has been written on this topic. Somebody could say that it is more than 30 years ago, so what? Thing that is important to bear in mind is the fact, that lot of radioactive contamination from the accident is still spread around us. If we take a look at the abovementioned number closely, we could realize that one of the major nuclear accident contaminant has its half life just slightly over 30 years (30.17 y). Do you know what is it? .... Yes it is Ceasium-137. What does this fact mean for us? It means that nearly half of the original fallout of Cs-137 from the disaster is still present somewhere in our environment (valid for 2018).

But do not be scared. In our daily life we usually come in contact with more intensive radiation from natural background (K-40, radon progeny, cosmic radiation) or medical examination (RTG, CT, PET, ...). On the other hand I would not probably recommend consuming of large quantities of mushrooms or boar meat from affected areas. As we will see in a while, the contamination is real.

My wife is mushroom picking enthusiast, since it is quite common hobby in our country. Some day last year she brought basket full of mushrooms and among them also Boletus chrysenteron (Xerocomellus chrysenteron). Brief inspection revealed that most of them were worm eaten, so probably not good idea to eat them if you are not fan of some extra protein in your scrambled mushroom dinner. Catherine was disappointed. But not so me, I confiscated it and obtained 32 g (dry weight) of perfect material for gamma spectrometry. I expected that some contamination will be revealed so it was not much surprising, that after about 37h of integration, little peak of Cs-137 popped up in the spectrum, as you can see below. Spectrum is quite noisy, but Cs-137 can be unequivocally identified. Thus thanks to Scintillix, I have been able to confirm presence of Cs-137 contamination in mushrooms picked in our district, even more than 30 years after Chernobyl disaster.


Sample Mushrooms - Boletus chrysenteron
Gamma spectrometer Scintillix SCGS-01
Scintillation probe NaI(Tl) 3"
Integration time 135253 sec (37.6 h)
Background correction Yes
Shield Lead
Software Theremino v.7.2


Cs-137 in mushrooms


Tags : radioactivity ,   cesium ,   cesium-137 ,   mushrooms ,   gammaspectrum

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