View Full Version : Are they killing us knowingly?

28th Oct 2003, 10:42
Back in the 60's many people smoked and it was "In Vogue" to do so. Little did the people then realise how harmful it was to themselves.

The question to pilots (especially over the pole drivers) is the radiation level really going to shorten pilots lives dramatically and do the scientists keep it hush hushed? What is the effect to date on those retired who spent years in the upper levels. FL 410 is commonplace nowadays with a significant increase in radiation to FL 350 especially at higher latitudes?

Anyone any statisticts? It could happen to any of us/ all of us?:zzz: :}

28th Oct 2003, 11:06
600 hours per year at 35,000' is about the same as having four chest X-rays per year.
No big deal.

28th Oct 2003, 12:24
Having worked in research climatology myself (but not in this particular field) I'm puzzled by your assertion that the scientists would keep it hush hush. I mean, why would they?

As far as I know, consensus is that people living in those regions are at significantly increased risk, although I've never heard that extrapolated to airline pilots. I would imagine that the answer is none, what with the ac providing the same function as a sun hat. But that's just my two cents.

28th Oct 2003, 15:20
There was an artical in one of the daily papers the other week, (sorry cant remember which one) talking about cancer rates in aircrew. Apparently they are signifcantly higher than the genteral public, they were quoting that a longhaul crewmember absorbs more radiation in a year than a neuclear power worker. Scarey realy, my Dad was a pilot as well as myself and he died of a brain tumour in his early 50s.

28th Oct 2003, 15:20
18 Wheeler, Depends a lot on your latitude...a lot more if you fly over the poles than the equator

28th Oct 2003, 15:26
to calculate your dose (http://www.sievert-system.org/WebMasters/en/index.html)

"lancet" article about leukemia in aircrew (http://www.mindfully.org/Health/Leukemia-Cosmic-Radiation-Aircrew.htm)
So there's nothing they need to hide :*

Edited for fixing links:(

28th Oct 2003, 15:43
The bottom 2 links dont work :(

28th Oct 2003, 15:47
Right Batty, seems the second article has been removed, but I had saved it:
From American Cancer Association News Center

Cosmic Radiation linked to Leukemia in Commercial Air Crew
Article date: 2001/01/12

Genetic research links cosmic radiation to DNA damage that may result in leukemia in commercial jet cockpit crew, according to the study in the Dec. 23 issue of the Lancet.

The study?s results suggest that cosmic radiation damages a particular chromosome in exactly the same way as radiation therapy does. Maryanne Gundestrup, MD, of the University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark and colleagues, studied the chromosomes of seven aircrew members with acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplasia (a condition that often develops into acute myeloid leukemia) and found that in four of the aircrew, the same section of one of their chromosomes was deleted. The researchers found a similar abnormality in eight of 19 patients who acquired leukemia after receiving radiation therapy.

The results indicate that the genetic deletion could be an indicator of previous exposure to ionizing radiation, according to the researchers, who say larger studies will be needed to confirm a link between myelodysplasia, acute myeloid leukemia, and exposure to cosmic radiation in aircrew.

The study is a follow-up to a study published a year ago by the same researchers in The Lancet (Vol. 354, No. 9195). The earlier study, involving nearly 4,000 cockpit crew members, showed that prolonged exposure of more than 5,000 hours to cosmic radiation increased the risk of acute myeloid leukemia about five-fold.

Risk to passengers is low

Cosmic radiation does not appear to threaten the average airline passenger, however. "The general population is not exposed to the same amount of flight hours as a commercial aircrew," Gundestrup says. "Smoking and car driving is many times more dangerous," she says.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory on radiation exposure, air travelers are exposed to about a 100-fold more biologically harmful dose at 35,000 feet than on the ground. Ionizing radiation, however, found in both cosmic radiation and radiation therapy, can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer.

"It is important to remember that flying is safe and that our findings have to be confirmed in larger studies," Gundestrup. She recommends that cockpit crew who are concerned about reducing their risk try to reduce ''passive flying'' on their way to duty as well as the amount of active flying if possible. "The only way to prevent exposure to cosmic radiation is to fly fewer hours," she says.

"This paper is interesting and provocative--perhaps it will lead to further studies," says H. Stacy Vereen, MD. Vereen, who is an FAA-designated Senior Aviation Medical Examiner and president of the Civil Aviation Medical Association, says, "Even though the risk to pilots is relatively small, we are all interested in reducing that risk to zero. Just as safety features are developed to reduce the risk of injury in automobile accidents, hopefully we will develop engineering methods to reduce the exposure and hence the risk of high-altitude cosmic radiation."

28th Oct 2003, 16:47
Virgin Atlantic carries radiation detection equipment in some of its aircraft in an effort to establish exactly how much radiation our pilots absorb in the course of their duties. So far, the results show that we receive far less than the legislated limits for notified occupations and, as far as I remember from my last AvMed session, far less than most other notified occupations.

The way I read it, while that doesn't mean there's no extra risk compared with a ground-dweller, the extra risk is very small. However, the last couple of (radiation-intense) days, I've limited myself to FL370!

28th Oct 2003, 17:25
recent article on radiation risks of polar routings

Wing Commander Fowler
28th Oct 2003, 20:05

Sorry for your loss - my Dad died of a brain tumour too in his fifties but he was a submariner...... (Nuclear boats mind!!)

28th Oct 2003, 21:00
Scroggs ,
I have heard before airlines claiming that aircrew are not exposed to a significant amount of radiation etc, but still, the increased risk of cancer has been established; so it may come from somwhere...maybe the crew food? :p

Daysleeper , interesting article, a good summary of what is currently known :ok:

28th Oct 2003, 22:54
Check out www.spaceweather.com as it has good information on the current topic.

Sunspot 486 had a coronal mass ejection and an X-18 category storm is on progress. We are getting lots of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum from this event.

They have more details.


29th Oct 2003, 01:38

all that's been established, as far as I am aware, is that aircrew have a statistically enhanced incidence of developing cancer. Also so far as I am aware, though I'm no expert, no cancer- or radiation-related study has been completed that accounts for the aircrew lifestyle in its entirety. For instance, what percentage of those cancers are, say, leukaemia, or melanoma? Do aircrew spend more time than the average citizen absorbing UVA and UVB next to a swimming pool? Is that significant? I could go on, but I'm sure you know what I'm driving at.

All I can say about Virgin's data gathering is that it measures the total amount of radiation we receive. The data is passed on to those who study such things, but I've not heard any firm conclusions about what the data mean to us. All we know is that the total radiation received is not great, and is well within industrial legistation limits. Whether those limits are adequate or not is quite another matter, and I'm not qualified to comment on that.

29th Oct 2003, 05:24
i believe that cabin crew have a greater incidence of breast cancer than the general public.

can anyone explain why?