I recently learned that the Red Hulk emits much higher levels of radiation than the Green variety.

I also know that the Red Hulk hangs out with the Avengers in his Hulk form, a lot. Most of the Avengers have super-human toughness and resistance so they don't make for great test subjects, but at least some of them are human or near enough. This seems like a recipe for disaster.

Are these emissions intense enough to hurt people or cause cancer/radiation poisoning?

  • 2
    Only if you put him to your ear...
    – dlanod
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 2:06
  • 1
    In a soon-to-be-released issue of Thor, he discovers to his great dismay that his hair is falling out and his sperm count is only 1900. They leave it ambiguous as to the exact cause though.
    – John O
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 5:05

2 Answers 2


Short Answer:

No. I would, based on the long history of the Green Hulk who has always, supposedly, emitted radiation, assume there is no long-term radiation danger of being in the presence of the Hulk if you were a normal human being (aside from the danger of people trying to kill, restrain, destroy, imprison or erradicate the Hulk and his attendant response to such threats). The idea was likely born in the very first issue of the Incredible Hulk when a Geiger counter on a table nearby went crazy as Banner transformed into the Hulk.

EDIT: I had an epipheny. What if any or all Hulks only emitted radiation DURING their transformation into their Hulked out form or during moments of supreme exertion? This would neatly explain why no one dies from radiation poisoning while they are out looking for bad guys or waiting onboard a Quinjet. A burst of radiation, mass is exchanged from that mysterious realm where it sits waiting to be added to their bodies, and then the door is closed; poof! Radiation-free Hulk.

Early Hulk Transformation, Geiger Counter Goes Wild

Early Hulk Transformation, Geiger Counter Goes Wild

The premise for the radiation emitted by either the Green Hulk (gamma radiation) or the Red Hulk (infrared radiation) has never been effectively quantified by the writers/editors of Marvel Comics. Nor has anyone been said to have died as a direct result of Hulk-emitted radiation.

Longer Answer:

The underlying phenomenon which is responsible for creating any Hulk has never been comprehensively explained by the Marvel Universe. Completely overlooked has been the nature of potential side-effects of the Hulk's condition. These side-effects would include the Red Hulk but curiously does not include any of the female Hulks.

  • It was mentioned in an offhand manner, the Hulk emitted gamma radiation during the days of the Savage Hulk. This was supposedly how General "Thunderbolt" Ross, was said to have found the Hulk with sensitive "gamma-ray scanning equipment".

  • Since it was written by a non-scientist, no mention of the actual level of radioactivity, no mention of the source of the radioactivity, or the rational for WHY the Hulk emitted enough radioactivity to be able to be detected with any long-range scientific device.

  • Adding insult to injury, the question of why the radiation emitted by the Hulk, which is supposed to be Gamma radiation, has not had any long-term effect on anyone who has spent time with the Hulk.

  • Given the Red Hulk's emission of infrared radiation (think hot asphalt in the summer or a powerful space heater) it might be possible for his touch to be unpleasant or even burn a normal human. This would be a marked difference from the Green Hulk whose radiation has always been considered just above the quality of background radiation except when he was exerting his powers.

  • This list of normal humans who would have been affected would have included long-time "Companion to Champions" Rick Jones who spent years with the savage and unintelligent Hulk. Betty Ross, former girlfriend and eventual wife to Bruce Banner also spent much of her time with the Hulk as well. Hawkeye, Captain America, Black Panther, and the Wasp were also early associates of the Hulk.

  • Since no writer has ever used the premise of "Hulk-emitted radiation" as anything other than a plot device, I would attribute it as a "special effect" to use Hero Game's Champion RPG language. It is a phenomenon which can be used for story-telling but has no real effect on anyone who participates in the character's life. As a caveat, I remind you if a writer WANTS it to have an effect it will. Hulk-emitted radiation was responsible for turning Ben Grimm back to his human form in Fantastic Four, Vol. 1, #167. The effect lasts until Fantastic Four, #175.

Hulk-emitted radiation transforms the Thing back into Ben Grimm. Take that, Reed Richards!

Hulk-emitted radiation transforms the Thing back into Ben Grimm. Take that, Reed Richards!

  • Yes, it can help people find the character, if they have the right equipment, but it does not cause radiation poisoning in any of the character's friends. As a curious note, no female Hulk emits radiation of any kind, nor are they more affected by radiations either. I attribute it to their simply being less powerful that the male Hulks (and correspondingly less disadvantaged).

From my reading of Wikipedia and the marvel wiki, it looks like the angrier the red hulk gets the more HEAT (not gamma radiation) he emits, which is a different part of the spectrum.

Unless it's at very high levels (due to him being very angry) it's doubtful it's an issue.

Even at high levels (you'd have to be pretty close, which has it's own health risks when the red hulk's that angry!) it would burn humans rather than cause cancer/radiation poisoning.

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