Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Cosmic Radiation

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


freight doggy dog
Mar 8, 2004
The Problems of Cosmic Aviation

To put cosmic radiation into perspective, the average person in the UK receives 2.6 millisieverts (mSv) of ionising radiation a year, nuclear workers receive 3.6 mSv and air crew receive 4.6 mSv, almost quarter as much again as a frequent flier.

The upper annual limit for a nuclear power plant worker in Europe, however, is 20 mSv, so even though cabin crew head the occupational ionizing radiation exposure league, they are well within European limits.

To equate these doses into actual fly-time, 1mSv is the result of 200 hrs on a subsonic aircraft. The same duration on Concorde would provide twice the exposure, as it flies at a far higher altitude, reducing the atmospheric protection further.

Tests for Cosmic Radiation

A British Airway study of 411 pilot deaths did reveal that incidence of malignant melamona, colon and brain cancers were above average.

Women, seem to be at greatest risk. An investigation by Finnair between 1940 and 1992 showed that air hostesses were at twice the risk of breast cancer compared to the average flier.

The Future - dealing with Cosmic Radiation

DVT has proven to be a thorn in the aviation's side over the last decade, with a raising awareness of the effects of cosmic radiation, the aviation industry as a whole needs to confront the problem.

Despite the apparent risks to the cabin crew, for the average traveller, cosmic radiation is not a real health concern. Like other forms of radiation, cosmic radiation can be impeded through the implementation of thick walls of steel and concrete. Of course, this solution is unfortunately impractical for an aircraft.

A more realistic solution currently being touted about the aviation industry is to incorporate lower flight paths which could significantly reduce the risk of cosmic radiation. The logistics of this on a large scale across the industry are, however, complex.

The natural solution for pilots and cabin crew is to spend less time in the air, again, though as this is an intrinsic component of the profession any real solutions seem to be few and far between.

Based on current tests, the average flier is at little risk to cosmic radiation, though pregnant mothers are recommended to only fly if absolutely necessary, as the undeveloped foetus is far more vulnerable to radiation than a healthy adult.

For now, the public's concern is primarily concerned with the risks of DVT, as awareness of this continues to grow so it may trigger a broader debate on all areas of flight health including cosmic radiation, which could help to kick start further research into the problem.

Cosmic Radiation and Airline Pilots: Exposure Pattern as a Function of Aircraft Type
U. Tveten, T. Haldorsen and J. Reitan

The project presented here has been carried out as part of an epidemiological project on Norwegian aircraft personnel, entitled 'Exposure to low level ionising radiation and incidence of cancer in airline pilots and crew'. The purpose of the main project is to determine if there may be a relationship between exposure to cosmic radiation at aircraft cruising altitudes and the incidence of cancer. The methodology used as basis for estimating the radiation exposures is presented. The information used as basis for the dose estimations comes from a variety of sources: the files at the Personnel Licensing Section and the Aviation Medical Section of Norwegian Aviation Administration, the route tables of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), large amounts of expert information contributed by members of the Pilot's Associations in Norway and a couple of non-Norwegian pilots and from other members of the staff of SAS and other airlines. The estimation for each pilot was based on individual information of annual block hours and an estimated dose rate for each type of aircraft. The latter was estimated as a weighted average of CARI-estimated doses on a selection of routes flown by the airplanes in the different time periods. The project includes all pilots that have been licensed in Norway since 1946. These pilots have been flying a large variety of different types of aircraft and routes. The cosmic radiation intensity is a function of altitude in the atmosphere and, less markedly, of geographical latitude and of the intensity of the radiation from the sun (quantified as the heliocentric potential). Different types of aircraft fly at different altitudes and are used for different purposes (passenger traffic, cargo, air photography, preparation of maps etc) and used on different routes. The end results of the project described in this article are radiation exposures per block hour for each type of aircraft, and for each individual year (the differences between years reflect the variation in intensity of the solar radiation, as well as variations in the route schedules of air companies). In the main project these results are subsequently combined with the number of block hours each year for each pilot to generate the individual radiation exposures per year and cumulative over the pilot's career. The end results of the calculations are dose rates per block hour (also referred to as flight hours) for Norwegian pilots employed by SAS, as a function of aircraft type and year. For planes used by the Scandinavian Airline System (SAS) the dose rate ranged from 0.07 µSv.h-1 (Twin Otter, 1975) to 4.3 µSv.h-1 (DC-10, 1975). For a given airplane more moderate, but still significant, differences over time were noticed, i.e. 2.5 µSv.h-1 (DC-10, 1980) and 4.3 µSv.h-1 (DC-10, 1975).

I used the search function and there were some other posts about glowing pilots a back in 2004-2006. But all are a bit old.

A doctor told my Mom that most pilots die young with organ disease - he believes is caused from cosmic radiation.

He said one of the best things you could do for yourself is take
Ecomer -


Supposedly it repairs tissues damaged by radiation - he said that particular brand was tested in labs and has the science behind it. I'm not trying to push this product or anything - Has anybody ever heard of using something like this to repair tissue damage caused by radiation? It seems to be nothing more than shark liver oil... or is it another kind of "snake oil"?

Most of the articles I found on the net (and posted first two posts) on this subject were published 2000 - maybe somebody has heard of some recent discoveries on this topic?

Latest resources