Brazil nuts are RADIOACTIVE: How dangerous is the radiation in Brazil nuts?

Brazil nuts are an unassuming ingredient, but with a number of potential uses. They are a common feature in chocolate brownies, rocky roads and even couscous. However, they also carry with them trace amounts of radioactivity. In Channel 4 programme Food Unwrapped, doctors found exactly how dangerous the nuts could be.

How dangerous is the radiation in Brazil nuts?

The Brazil tree – where the Brazil nut comes from – is known to have particularly exploratory roots.

The tree is one of the largest in the Amazon rainforest, and the roots stretch in expansive networks.

It is not in the nature of a brazil nut to be radioactive, as it is dependant on how much radiation is absorbed through its mother tree’s roots.

The roots sometimes take in some naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) in the soil where they gather nutrients.

This material is then fed into the nut but is not at all deadly.

Even if people were to fill themselves with the nut on a daily basis, they would not feel the ill effects.

Eating large amounts of the nut would provide a radioactive dosage comparable to that of an X-ray, according to experts.

Dr Suzie Sheehy, who inspected a crop of nuts on Food Unwrapped, said: “The radiation in Brazil nuts could be harmful but the level is very low.

“In 100 grams you have about the amount of a chest x-ray.

“It would take 25,000 Brazil buts in order to feel any health effects from the radiation.

“You can eat as many as your stomach can take.”

The largest radiation exposure from an X-ray is 1.5 millisieverts (mSv), and the fatal dosage for radiation-based cancer is a cumulative 1,000 mSv.

This would also cause radiation sickness such as nausea, vomiting and haemorrhaging, but not death.

One single dose of 5,000 mSv would be enough to kill those nearby within one month.

According to the World Nuclear Association, exposure to 350 mSv was the criterion for relocating people after the Chernobyl accident.

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