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Radioactive boar shot dead in Sweden – 31 years after Chernobyl disaster

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Radioactive boar shot dead in Sweden – 31 years after Chernobyl disaster
File photo of wild boar in a Swedish forest. Photo: TT
17:08 CEST+02:00
A wild boar with radiation levels more than ten times the safe limit has been shot in central Sweden.

The reason for the unusually high radiation is that the animal lived in fields which are still affected by fallout from the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, 31 years ago. 

After the explosion at the reactor in what is now Ukraine, much of Sweden was covered in a toxic cloud of radioactive iodine and cesium-137. When the rain came, the area around Gävle in the centre-east of the country took the brunt of the radioactive pollution.

READ ALSO: Why Sweden's reindeer are still radioactive 30 years after Chernobyl

But while levels of radiation in animals such as elk and reindeer have been continually decreasing, wild boar have now begun to move north into the areas worst affected by the nuclear fallout – meaning the level of radiation among the boar population seems to be on the rise.

One boar shot in August had a radiation of 13,000 becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg), whereas the limit set by Sweden's Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) for safe consumption is 1,500 Bq/kg. 

And another boar, which was shot a while ago but was kept in freezer storage, has just had its radiation level measured at 16,000 Bg/kg, or in other words, more than ten times the safe limit. That animal was killed in Tärnsjö, located between Uppsala and Gävle.

"This is the highest level we’ve measured," Ulf Frykman, an environmental consultant who tests radiation levels in game meat, told SVT

Frykman said his team had measured around 30 samples of meat so far this year, and found that only five or six of those were below the safe limit.

The animals themselves rarely suffer any negative health effects from the radiation due to their short life spans, but people who consume meat with high radiation levels face an increased risk, albeit still a small one, of developing cancer.

READ ALSO: Swedes are consuming more meat than ever

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