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food / travel

Testing Food For Fukushima Radiation, Swiss Find Chernobyl Contamination Instead

Mushroom lovers beware. Health authorities in Zurich recently destroyed 10 tons of Ukrainian mushrooms after determining that the wild fungi contained unacceptable levels of radiation.

ZURICH A food-testing lab in Zurich, Switzerland is sounding the alarm after discovering that a batch of mushrooms shipped from Ukraine contained too much radioactive cesium-137. Ukraine had cleared the mushrooms for export.

The laboratory had been on its toes last year because of the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan. It ran dozens of tests on various foods from Japan and came up with no radiation-contaminated items. Chemist Rolf Etter was all the more surprised, therefore, to find radiation in food of another provenance – Ukraine – especialle since his team stumbled upon the findings by pure chance. Yet in two of the 14 tests conducted on frozen wild Ukrainian mushrooms, tolerance levels of cesium-137 were well over the acceptable mark. The mushrooms had all been imported by the same company.

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Society

Return To Clay: Why An Ancient Building Material Is Back In Fashion

Concrete and glass are often thought of as the only building materials of modern architecture. But Francis Diébédo Kéré, the first African winner of a prestigious Pritzker architecture prize, works with clay, whose sustainability is not the only benefit.

Francis Diébédo Kéré extended the primary school in the village of Gando, Burkina Faso

Clara Le Fort

"Clay is fascinating. It has this unique grain and is both beautiful and soft. It soothes; it contributes to well-being..."

Francis Diébédo Kéré, the first African to be awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize last March, is paying tribute to clay. It's a material that he adores, which has too often been shunned and attributed to modest constructions and peasant houses. Diébédo Kéré has always wanted to celebrate "earthen architecture”: buildings made out of clay. It's a technique that has been used for at least 10,000 years, which draws on this telluric element, known as dried mud, beaten earth, rammed earth, cob or adobe.

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