Record radiation levels found in Swedish wild boar

Even though it's over 30 years since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, radiation levels exceeding 39 706 Bq (becquerel) per kilo have been found in Swedish wild boar meat taken from the Uppland area.

Record radiation levels found in Swedish wild boar
File photo of a wild boar in Sweden. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

According to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, this is the highest ever level measured in wild boar meat in Sweden, way exceeding the 1500 Bq/kg safe limit set by the Swedish Food Agency for meat consumption.

Back in October 2017, two other hogs tested had record-high levels too, but at 13,000 Bq/kg and 16,000 Bq/kg they were small fry compared to this latest measurement. What makes this new record even more surprising is the fact that in 1986 there were no wild boar roaming the areas most affected by the Chernobyl fallout.

Speaking to The Local, Paul Andersson of the Swedish Radiation Authority explained that “wild boar were practically non-existent outside the southern counties of Skåne and Sörmland, two Swedish counties unaffected by radiation. However, in the years since, the wild boar population has multiplied and migrated to northern areas of Sweden”, which is why the authority is keen to test wild boar meat.

Andersson noted that wild boar may be particularly susceptible to radiation for a number of reasons: ”Wild boar forage for wild mushrooms and have the ability to find truffles in the ground, which may explain why this particular wild hog had such high levels of radiation.”

In contrast, he said elk meat's radiation levels have consistently gone down since 1986, rarely exceeding the safety limit for meat consumption of 1500 Bq/kg.

The authority is encouraging hunters to send them wild boar meat samples for testing.