T1 phage, BU-T1 phage, infectious DNA extracted from phage φX 174, and chromatographically purified ribonuclease were exposed to thermal hydrogen atoms, and the loss of plaque-forming ability, infectivity, or enzymatic activity was determined after various exposure times. Atomic hydrogen was generated by two different methods: (1) by a high-frequency discharge in hydrogen gas and (2) by irradiating a foil of polyethyleneterephthalate with 2-MeV protons. With increasing exposure time the surviving fraction of all objects tested approaches a constant level. After subtracting this constant "indestructible" fraction in either system, all objects were inactivated according to exponential curves. Furthermore, no BU sensitization was found to occur in BU-T1 phage exposed to atomic hydrogen, whereas gamma irradiation of samples from the same batches revealed a BU effect of a factor of 2.2. These experiments demonstrate hydrogen atoms to be efficient in causing biological damage. Consequently the terminology of "direct" and "indirect" radiation effect may have to be redefined.

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