Answer to Question #8533 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Environmental and Background Radiation — Plants and Animals

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

I have heard of sporadic radiation spills at industrial sites and from medical facilities. Some of these spills may reach our planting fields and crops. How would gamma radiation affect the germination of seeds and subsequent plant growth?

The simple answer is that it is not at all likely that gamma radiation would affect your crops. The explanation is that, with few exceptions, plants and especially seeds are resistant to radiation. Extremely large doses are required to affect germination of seeds, and smaller (but still large) doses are needed to produce effects in already established plants. The doses associated with potential spills are very, very much lower than the doses required to cause effects in plants. So, not to worry about your garden or your crops.

Ron Kathren, CHP

Answer posted on 28 September 2009. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.