New guidelines on the natural radioactivity of food
In depth - January 02, 2018

New guidelines on the natural radioactivity of food

The food we consume and the water we drink have some levels of natural radioactivity that are generally not dangerous to your health. Natural radionuclides are transferred from the earth to the crops, and from these to food. Similarly, these radionuclides are transferred from the water in rivers, lakes and oceans to the fish.

Safe levels for consumption

For the most parts, the levels of natural radionuclides in food products and drinking water are very low, which makes them safe for human consumption. However, they can vary considerably depending on local geology, climate and agricultural practices.

Guidelines and legal frameworks

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is currently developing a series of guidelines to measure and determine acceptable levels of natural radioactivity in food in order to improve its safety. To date, standards and guidelines were mainly centered on the radioactivity levels of artificial sources (X-rays, transportation, nuclear generation, etcétera) and paid less attention to the natural radionuclides in the environment. The latter is important to the food chain, as most of the doses received by people come from these sources.

The World Health Organization has developed a legal framework with reference levels for the management of radionuclides, both naturally occurring and man-made. The joint commission formed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Codex Alimentarius also published guidelines for the radionuclides of food contaminated by a nuclear or radiological incident.  

IAEA plans to establish principles for a series of harmonized guidelines on natural radioactivity in food in non-emergency situations and integrate them with existing guidelines for the radionuclides from artificial sources.

You can find more information on natural radioactivity in food here.

Source: NucNet

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