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Consequences of the Chernobyl accident for reindeer husbandry in Sweden

Author(s): Gustaf Åhman | Birgitta Åhman | Axel Rydberg

Journal: Rangifer
ISSN 1890-6729

Volume: 10;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 83;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Cs-137 | halflife | feeding | reindeer | reindeer husbandry | Sweden | Cherobyl | consequences

Large parts of the reindeer hearding area in Sweden were contaminated with radioactive caesium from the Chernobyl fallout. During the first year after the accident no food with activity concentrations exceeding 300 Bq/kg was allowed to be sold in Sweden. This meant that about 75% of all reindeer meat produced in Sweden during the autumn and winter 1986/87 were rejected because of too high caesium activités. In May 1987 the maximum level for Cs-137 in reindeer, game and fresh-water fish was raised to 1500 Bq/kg. During the last two year, 1987/88 and 1988/89, about 25% of the slaughtered reindeer has had activities exceeding this limit. The effective long-time halflife or radiocaesium in reindeer after the nuclear weapon tests in the sixties was about 7 years. If this halflife is correct also for the Chernobyl fallout it will take about 35 years before most of the reinder in Sweden are below the current limit 1500 Bq/kg in the winter. However, by feeding the animals uncontaminated food for about two months, many reindeer can be saved for human consumption.

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