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Chernobyl still hitting shrooms 19/07/2004 18:28 - (SA)
Helsinki - Finns, who consume on average nearly 1.5kg of wild mushrooms a year, should continue to take precautions when eating some types of fungi because of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 18 years ago, officials said on Monday.
In April 1986, a nuclear reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl power plant exploded and spewed equivalent radiation of more than 200 Hiroshima bombs into the air, contaminating large parts of Europe, including southwestern Finland.
Aino Rantavaara, a researcher with the Finnish radiation and nuclear safety authority,said: "There are no mushrooms that people should not eat, but we emphasize that, in some regions, making up just 20% of our total land area, people should still take some precautions when eating certain types."
She recommended boiling mushrooms and then discarding the water, which typically removes between two-thirds and 90% of radioactive materials such as Cesium 137.
While the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is the largest so far, it accounts for only 1% of the total annual radiation Finns are exposed to, the remainder coming from natural background radiation, she said.