Low amounts of radioactive materials originating from the Chernobyl accident are found in Finnish vegetables. The radiation dose caused by them is very low.
Long-lived radioactive materials cesium-137 and strontium-90 originating from the Chernobyl accident can still be found in low concentrations in Finnish vegetables. The uneven distribution of the cesium-137 fallout in 1986 can be seen in the measurement data of vegetables. Cesium-137 and strontium-90 present in Finnish vegetables account for less than one per cent of the radiation dose received from food.
STUK has analyzed concentration levels and concentration variation of artificial radioactive materials in vegetables produced in Finland, obtained from different parts of the country. The analyzed vegetable varieties represent more than 90 per cent of vegetable consumption. Of greenhouse vegetables, cucumber, tomato and lettuce grown in peat pots were included in the analysis.
In outdoor vegetables, cesium-137 concentrations were under one becquerel per kilogram, with the exception of one beetroot sample and one potato sample with concentrations of 1.3 and 8.1 becquerels per kilogram, respectively. The variation was greatest in regions that were most heavily hit by the Chernobyl fallout, but even in these regions, the cesium-137 concentration in most samples was below 0.2 becquerels per kilogram. In greenhouse vegetables, cesium-137 concentrations varied from 0.1 to 9.3 becquerels per kilogram. The highest concentrations were found in organic lettuce grown in horticultural peat. Strontium-90 levels were determined from mixtures of four most consumed outdoor vegetable varieties. The strontium-90 concentrations varied from 0.009 to 0.17 becquerels per kilogram.
The radiation dose received through consumption of Finnish vegetables has decreased to approximately one tenth of the doses received in 1987 and 1988.