Click here for basic information on cosmic and solar radiation
Airline crews are the highest exposed radiation workers in the US (NCRP Rep. 160). Get educated with “The Invisible Passenger” (revised edition). It is a
comprehensive, readable, introduction to the hazards of in-flight radiation.
Click here to purchase.
AFA members are offered a 20% discount on the $19.95 cover price. To receive
the discount go to the order form and type “AMPAFA” in
the promotion box.
Concern raised over backscatter (X-ray) security scanners: When you walk through a backscatter security scanner, it feels like you
are walking between two tall freezers, not to be confused with a millimeter
wave unit in which you stand in a glass booth and are not exposed to X-rays.
There are conflicting reports over whether you should be concerned about the
radiation dose delivered by the backscatter security scanners being installed
at a growing number of airports, especially if you are pregnant, trying to get
pregnant, over 65 or traveling with children. The TSA
notes that the radiation dose from the backscatter devices is very small
compared to your radiation dose inflight from the sun and stars. Conversely, experts at UCSF raised their
concerns with the White House in April 2010, noting that the radiation is
delivered directly to the skin (potentially increasing the risk of skin cancer)
and that the radiation dose can vary depending on the machine operator and any
malfunctions. The FDA
responded to the UCSF scientists, but didn’t address all of the concerns.
Ultimately, the radiation exposure risks of the backscatter devices are not yet
well-defined, while radiation exposure in glass booth scanners is under study,
but is likely okay. Fortunately, flight attendants
are not required to use either device. If you want to avoid exposure to
radiation, tell the TSO that you
want to walk through the metal detector instead, followed by a standard
pat-down if the metal detector alarm sounds.
2008 Information on how
to identify solar particle events Check this website
before going to the airport. If the green line is above "10 to the
zero" on the left side of the graph, it is recommended that pregnant women
postpone travel. To help you interpret the graph that you see on your computer
screen, here is an example of a graph with no Solar Particle
Event (SPE)and here is one with a SPE of health
significance. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction
Center will also notify you of these solar events for free by email. This
is especially important information if you are pregnant. Register as a
user, then click on "aviation", "subscribe", "solar
radiation events", and then check the following five boxes: (1) WARNING:
proton event 10 MeV > 10 PFU expected; (2) ALERT: proton event 10 MeV,
exceeded 100 PFU; (3) ALERT: proton event 10 MeV, exceeded 1,000 PFU; (4)
ALERT: proton event 10 MeV, exceeded 10,000 PFU; and (5) ALERT:
proton event 10 MeV, exceeded 100,000 PFU
Aug 2005 AFA asks FAA
Administrator to save CARI program Letter to Administrator Blakey that describes the importance of funding the CARI
program that is currently
used world wide to track an individual's dose of galactic radiation during
commercial airline flights. (The FAA responded on Sept 12, 2005, assuring AFA that the
CARI program will not be cut.)
2003 Published assessment of
the health risks associated with radiation exposure of
crewmembers, citing legislation passed in 2000 to compensate nuclear power
plant workers for negative health effects believed to be caused by their
radiation exposure which is about half of what the typical air crewmember gets.
(Thanks to APA for bringing this
paper to our attention.)
19 May 1994. Advisory circular
(guidance material) AC No. 120-61 Recommends that the airlines provide
crewmembers with educational materials that describe the potential radiation
exposures and associated health risks (Has been widely ignored.) US Federal
5 Mar 1990. Advisory circular (guidance material) AC No. 120-52
Recognizes crewmembers as being occupationally exposed to radiation and lists
estimated radiation exposure levels according to flight route, assuming normal
solar activity. US Federal Aviation Administration.