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A Radioactive Berry-Picking Boom Outside Chernobyl

Published: November 30, 2016
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Source: CNBC

While many rural towns across Eastern Europe face economic struggle, the Ukrainian region of Polesia, 200 miles east of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site, has become something of a boomtown for foragers seeking mushrooms and berries — nearly all of which are contaminated with radiation.

The berry picking brings in money for locals as well. A picker can earn $20 to $30 a day, whereas a local schoolteacher earns $80 a month.

However, Brown also says there could be some hidden costs — the berries end up in the hands of European customers who often do not know they are ingesting foods containing radioactive isotopes. In addition, Brown notes, the berries can be labeled organic, since radioactivity is not covered under common organic designations.

And the locals who are harvesting the berries may be suffering the effects of accumulated radiation. There is evidence of higher rates of certain birth defects and diseases in some of the areas affected by the disaster.

More: The Harvests of Chernobyl

 

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