Eating unchecked homegrown vegetables and wild game from radiation-tainted areas on a regular basis can lead to high levels of internal radiation exposure, according to the results of a study published Tuesday in the U.S. online science journal PLOS ONE.

However, levels of radioactive cesium detected in the bodies of the study's participants declined once they stopped eating highly contaminated food, said the researchers, who called for renewed efforts to raise people's awareness of risky foods at a time when public interest appears to be dwindling.

The study focused on Minamisoma, which stretches about 14 to 38 km north of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Researchers followed nine people, who were the only ones out of 30,622 examinees from the city to have internal cesium-137 levels greater than 50 becquerels per kilogram in screenings between March 11, 2012, and March 10, 2013. That's roughly equal to 0.1 to 0.2 millisieverts per year.