Juergen Baetz, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – Fri, 1 Apr, 2011 5:05 AM EDT
How's your math?
In Austria, authorities say that eating the unlikelyamount of 2 pounds of contaminated boar meat that is 10 times above the legal cesium limit would amount to two-thirds of an adult's normal annual radiation intake by food.
Yeah, well, okay, if you say so.....
Fuzzy math aside, the fact remains that at least four European countries, Austria, France, Germany and Russia, are still affected enough by what happened a half a century ago that they regularly check and destroy thousands of hunted wild boars unfit for human consumption due to high levels of Cesium.
The German boars roam in forests nearly 950 miles (1,500 kilometres ) from Chornobyl. Yet, the amount of radioactive cesium-137 within their tissue often registers dozens of times beyond the recommended limit for consumption and thousands of times above normal.
"We still feel the consequences of Chornobyl's fallout here," said Christian Kueppers, a radiation expert at Germany's Institute for Applied Ecology in Freiburg.
"The contamination won't go away any time soon — with cesium's half-life being roughly 30 years, the radioactivity will only slightly decrease in the coming years."
Cesium can build up in the body and high levels are thought to be a risk for various other cancers. Still, researchers who studied Chornobyl could not find an increase in cancers that might be linked to cesium.
Cesium also accumulates over time in the soil, which makes boars most susceptible They snuffle through forest soil with their snouts and feed on the kinds of mushroom that tend to store radioactivity, Environment Ministry spokesman Thomas Hagbeck said.
The problem is so common that now all wild boars bagged by hunters in the affected regions have to be checked for radiation. Government compensation to hunters whose quarry has to be destroyed has added up to €460,000 ($650,000) over the past 12 months, Hagbeck said.