Food and household water

The radiation dose received from food is low

The radiation dose received from food is low

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 dose.

The natural radioactivity in food exposes each Finn to a radiation dose of 0.3 millisieverts per year. 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. Natural radioactivity refers to radioactive substances that are naturally present in the environment, such as the potassium isotope K-40, uranium, thorium and their decay products. 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 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 mSv, ranging from 0.01 to 0.5 millisieverts per year.

All food also contains naturally occurring radioactive materials. The most significant of these is potassium-40. Naturally occurring radioactive materials cause a dose of approximately 0.3 millisieverts per year.


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