[ RadSafe ] Myth Busters and Irradiated Cockroaches - Jan 30

Mercado, Don don.mercado at lmco.com
Tue Jan 8 16:40:58 CST 2008


Stewart Farber wrote:

"Of interest to some, the 50th Anniversary of the HPSociety saw the
publication of "A Half Century of Health Physics [Ryan & Poston, Sr.,
editors). This publication on page 229 mentions that there was a 1988
HPS Special Publication: "Will Insects Inherit the Earth". See:


I recall seeing this 1988 HPS Special Publication, but don't have it at
hand. Perhaps someone has the complete citation to the 1988 HPS Special
Publication which should be directly relevant to this thread about
roaches and radiation resistance."

I just happen to have a copy here by my desk. ""Would the Insects
Inherit the Earth?" and Other Subjects of Concern to Those Who Worry
About Nuclear War" compiled and edited by Jack C. Greene and Daniel J.
Strom. Published by Pergamon, copywrited by the HPS on 1988, ISBN

The book is a compilation of 34 questions and responses by experts.
There are some very notable names here including Edward Teller, Ken
Skrable, etc. D.A. Crossley, Jr. responds to the question, "Would you
care to speculate about the consequences to the insects if a nuclear
attack on this country should occur, producing fairly high-level
widespread radiological contamination?" In his response he talks about
various factors that control insect population, their relative
insensitivity to radiation exposure, and other variables. What happens
to the insects depends on how much radiation they are exposed to. At
first there would be a lot of dead and sterile insects. Those buried in
the ground wouldn't be exposed as much as those on the surface. So he
says, "Given the variability (of exposure - DPM) to be expected even in
widespread contamination, it seems likely that insects would not only
survive, but under some conditions would reach outbreak conditions."

In his last paragraph he states," Ultimately, the "sage" may be correct.
Cockroaches may be the final beneficiaries of all of our labor. They are
able to feed on the dead, decaying organic matter which we might produce
in great supply. Cockroaches are fairly radiosensitive as insects go,
however; I think I would put my money on one of the little fungus gnats
or chironomid flies. Even given the "Nuclear Winter," the final observer
of our stewardship of the earth may be a melancholy gnat."

The book also discusses nuclear power plants as potential targets in a
nuclear war, home made atomic bombs, naturally occurring fallout
protection, etc. . Interesting reading.


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