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Radiation dose received from food

The harmful effect of radioactive substances is indicated by the radiation dose they cause. The more you eat radioactive substance-containing food and the higher the concentration of such substances, the higher the radiation dose.

Man-made radioactivity in food is monitored by collecting daily portions of solid food from institutional kitchens in three different locations over a period of one week. Drinks are collected for one day only. This produces information on the radioactivity levels in institutional kitchen food as well as on the radiation dose received from institutional kitchen food. The annual radiation dose originating from food received by Finns is estimated on the basis of this radiation dose.

Radioactive materials that occur in nature included in the food cause a Finnish person an annual radiation dose of a total of approximately 0.3 millisieverts. The dose received by bore well water drinkers from drinking water is approximately the same as the dose received from food. For drinkers of waterworks water and ground water, the dose is even lower.

Radioactive materials that occur in nature refers to radioactive substances that are naturally present in the environment, such as the potassium isotope K-40, uranium, thorium and their decay products. The most significant in terms of the radiation dose is K-40. Radiation exposure caused by artificial radioactive substances, i.e., substances generated through human activity, is less than ten per cent of this, approximately 0.02 millisieverts.

The majority of the dose caused by cesium in food comes from wild food products. Fish, wild berries, wild mushrooms and game account for approximately 80 per cent of the dose received from food, reindeer meat for approximately five per cent and farm produce for approximately 15 per cent. People who eat a lot of wild food products may receive a tenfold radiation dose compared with the average consumer.

In addition to measuring radioactive concentrations in food, the radiation exposure of Finns has also been monitored by directly measuring people. After the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, measurements have been carried out on a group of people living in the heaviest fallout area. Most of them use a lot of food from the nature. For this group, the average dose from cesium in food is approximately 0.1 millisieverts (mSv), ranging from 0.01 to 0.5 millisieverts per year.

The uptake of Cs-137 and Sr-90 from food in 2021.

City Date of sampling 137Cs (Bq/day) food 90Sr (Bq/week) food
Helsinki 29.3.2021 0.12 0.30
  30.3.2021 0.30  
  31.3.2021 0.38  
  1.4.2021 0.10  
  2.4.2021 0.15  
  3.4.2021 0.15  
  4.4.2021 0.21  
Rovaniemi 3.5.2021 0.12 0.27
  4.5.2021 0.13  
  5.5.2021 0.13  
  6.5.2021 0.09  
  7.5.2021 0.40  
  8.5.2021 0.20  
  9.5.2021 0.39  
Tampere 3.5.2021 0.26 0.27
  4.5.2021 0.31  
  5.5.2021 0.17  
  6.5.2021 0.10  
  7.5.2021 0.10  
  8.5.2021 0.11  
  9.5.2021 0.22  


​​​​​​The uptake of Cs-137 and Sr-90 from drink in 2021.


Date of sampling

137Cs (Bq/day) drink

90Sr (Bq/week) drink

Helsinki 29.3.2021 0.14 0.01
Rovaniemi 4.5.2021 0.26 0.02
Tampere 5.5.2021 0.23 0.01