Published: April 2006
Did You Know?
In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.

The Chernobyl fallout had far-reaching effects, spreading radionuclides in problematic amounts as far away as Lapland in northern Scandinavia. Communities in Arctic and subarctic Europe, such as the indigenous Sami people who herd reindeer, faced significant problems from the accident because of the high transfer rate of radioactive cesium 137 from contaminated lichen eaten by reindeer. In the first year many herds were slaughtered and destroyed to avoid consumption of the meat. Scientists estimate it will take another 20 years for cesium 137 levels in reindeer to fall to pre-Chernobyl levels.

—Emily Krieger