Answer to Question #7157 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Are clothes and wool coats made in Ukraine and Belarus radioactive due to the Chernobyl accident? Is there any screening done on products imported to the United States? I always avoid purchasing them and even have a fear of being exposed to radiation by these articles of clothing.
According to the information that I could obtain, wool and cotton that are used to make clothes and coats in Ukraine and in Belarus are imported from other countries and, therefore, are not tainted with radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident. Therefore, there is no screening in Belarus or in Ukraine before export to the United States and I do not think that there is any special screening done on these products at the U.S. border.
I should point out that, even if local products were used to manufacture clothes and coats in Belarus and in Ukraine, the radioactive contamination of the clothes would be very small because most of the environmental radioactivity that was released during the accident has disappeared during the more than 20 years that have elapsed and also because the production of the textile materials would have contributed to the elimination of the radioactivity. I must admit, however, that I am not aware of any measurements that could support my conclusions.
André C. Bouville, PhD