It is known that melanin protects against UV radiation.

But say a nuclear bomb dropped somewhere would more people of dark complexion survive the radiation burns because the melanin would protect them?

Or as another example, suppose there was a meltdown and someone had to swim into the reactor to pull out the core, would it be best to send the light skinned or dark skinned person to ensure maximum chance of survival? All other things being equal.


The absorption of gamma and x-ray radiation by skin is negligible, so the amount of melanin present is irrelevant. Stopping high energy photons requires a lot of mass, not a few microns of melanin.

  • $\begingroup$ interesting. There was an article about a mould that was inside a nuclear reactor, and they said it survived because it had high levels of melanin $\endgroup$
    – zooby
    Feb 5 '20 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ @zooby Were you thinking of this? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiotrophic_fungus $\endgroup$ Feb 5 '20 at 3:41
  • $\begingroup$ That's the one. $\endgroup$
    – zooby
    Feb 5 '20 at 3:44

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