Flight to Majorca from the U.K. reveals increased risk of radiation using a scintillating GammaRae Pager de...
Flight to Majorca from the U.K. reveals increased risk of radiation using a scintillating GammaRae Pager detector.
Normal Background Radiation at Ground Level is 3 counts per second, increasing as the aircraft climbs to 15 counts per second with peaks measured at 17 counts per second.
While this poses little if any problems to a passenger going on holiday two or three times a year, it inevitably increases the risk of cancer to those working on regular flights.
Tuesday, June 29, 1999 Published at 00:31 GMT 01:31 UK
Nine studies in North America and Europe have shown increased rates of cancer among those who work in aeroplanes.
Pilots are more likely to get colon, rectal, prostate and brain cancers, while flight attendants are twice as likely to suffer breast cancer.
Aircrew members who are pregnant could also be putting their unborn children at risk of diseases such as Down's syndrome and leukaemia.
Radiation in high-altitude flight is a complex mixture of particles that presumably come from stars, including our own sun. Protons, alpha particles, and heavier atomic particles from countless stars in our galaxy are sources of primary cosmic radiation.
In addition to the radiation coming from vast distances, the radiation from the sun, we call solar cosmic radiation, bombards our planet. When these particles enter the Earth's atmosphere, they collide with atoms of nitrogen, oxygen, & other particles in air producing secondary particles, mainly neutrons.
Many of the primary and secondary particles are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, However, at high altitudes during commercial aviation the radiation is of significantly
higher intensity than at ground level. Measuring all of the particles that enter an aircraft would prove difficult and would require some serious equipment.
The GammaRae Pager provides accurate measurement of gamma particles and many interactions are known to release these particles along with alpha beta and neutron, so although we do not measure all of the particles we can determine that the level of gamma radiation from collisions with other particles and direct collisions with the radiation monitor clearly show that high altitude flight is not without risks from increased radiation exposure.
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