“Radiation can be a scary word, but we think it’s important to remember that actually, we live surrounded by radiation every single day.”
The radioactive material, once incorporated, can continue to emit powerful radiation for some amount of time—the exact duration depends on how much and what type of the radioactive material was ingested—and can be passed on if a human then eats the plant or animal.
Radiation in food is very harmful because it is then absorbed by the consumer.
Radioactive particles give off energy. This energy weakens, destroys, or otherwise harms cells. One might picture it as little microwave ovens, inside the body, cooking it from the inside. What is cooked are the cells in the body. Sometimes a cell is destroyed completely and if enough are destroyed then we become sick, weaken, or die. Other times, radiation may only damage or deform the cells. The deformed cells may multiply, causing cancer which is one of the main longterm concerns about radiation.
We think the most at-risk articles are those fresh products, perhaps dairy products, fresh fruits, vegetables, which could absorb radiation through the ground.
Radioactive iodine found in the air falls to the ground naturally, or is brought down with the rain or snow. On a farm, the radioactive substances can embed in the grass that cows eat, and are then excreted in its milk.
“The surface of foods like fruits and vegetables or animal feed can become radioactive by deposit of radioactive materials falling on it from the air or through rain water,” says a release from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN’ Food and Agricultural Organization.
The presence of these harmful particles in soil was what led to the contamination of cow milk following the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl in 1986, after cows ate grass grown in radioactive soil.