tommytoyz
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Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:03 pm

I was discussing the Fukushima radiation release into the water with a friend of mine and this morning he sent me a report of a passenger taking his radiation reading instrument along on a flight from Chile to the USA.

Note...and note carefully - a CPM (Counts Per Minute) reading of 100 is a mandatory HAZMAT Quarantine EMERGENCY in the State of California. Get that? The shocking readings shown in the photos below are what the passengers were breathing and fully-exposed to during the flights from Chile to Atlanta and then across the US to Portland, Oregon.

http://rense.com/general96/shockingplanerad.html

Is it something in the atmosphere?

The Fukushima accident may or may not be the source of the radiation readings taken on this flight. But are such radiation levels normal on airliner flights? I would say probably not as the readings fluctuated quite a bit depending on geographical location and actually increased substantially on decent into Atlanta.

It would have made some sense if the readings were highest, the higher they flew, but that's not what happened. And the question also arises why the radiation readings were so different while cruising over South America Vs. over the USA? There should not have been much of a difference, if nothing in the atmosphere was causing this.

What do you all think about this?

California HAZMAT - over 100 CPM
 
LAXintl
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:13 pm

Yes radiation at altitude is a known hazard. One reason why crew members often have higher prevalence of things like skin cancer.

Besides radiation, ozone exposure is also an issue with most types of modern planes having ozone filters, or their operations are limited in altitude or latitude to minimize ozone exposure.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
apfpilot
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:46 pm

What is the limit outside of california? I have trouble taking them seriously with the stickers about couch cushions being known to the state of california to cause cancer.
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Maverick623
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:49 pm

Quoting tommytoyz (Thread starter):
But are such radiation levels normal on airliner flights?

Yes.

I can assure you that this guy either is a conspiracy nut who knows nothing about radiation, or is trolling the crap out of conspiracy nuts.

BTW, Counts per Minute is a very poor way to measure radiation dose. It's like measuring an electrical current in Amps, and using only that number to measure how much damage the current will do to you.

It's no different than the 9/11 conspiracy whackos that claimed the buildings were dynamited, because of how they fell. Completely ignorant to the laws of physics.
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apfpilot
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:08 pm

Interesting reading from the Australian Government about this issue: http://www.arpansa.gov.au/radiationprotection/factsheets/is_cosmic.cfm
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tommytoyz
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:15 pm

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 3):
I can assure you that this guy either is a conspiracy nut who knows nothing about radiation, or is trolling the crap out of conspiracy nuts.

You may be correct or maybe not. From what I am reading on WIKI, you are correct in that the CPM is not an indication of total energy or dosage. The fact that we don't know the total energy from these readings does not mean it is low, since we don't know either way.

From WIKI:
Count rate does not universally equate to dose rate, and there is no simple universal conversion factor.

So the question is, are CPM readings like these normal, even at low altitudes?
 
YYZYYT
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:16 pm

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 3):
I can assure you that this guy either is a conspiracy nut who knows nothing about radiation, or is trolling the crap out of conspiracy nuts.

  

The first clue would be use of the word "Shocking" in the title. The second would be use of the phrase "what your government won't tell you".


On a different (and more rational) note, my kids' school took part in an experiment with Chris Hadfield (recently of ISS fame), where radiation dosometres were distributed to kids in class rooms, and flight crews... the idea was to compare exposure in space to exposures at different altitudes on earth.

Should look up the results...

Quoting apfpilot (Reply 4):
Interesting reading from the Australian Government about this issue: http://www.arpansa.gov.au/radiationp...c.cfm

From the article above:

"Large studies of pilots and aircrew have generally shown no significant association with an increased health risk."

[Edited 2013-08-29 11:19:20]
 
tommytoyz
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:24 pm

https://sites.google.com/site/mechatronicsguy/radiation-while-flying

I think the readings are probably not worrisome after all. Though quite a bit higher than on other flights. The total dose is probably very very low. But we don't know for sure and the recent readings seem elevated. I would say monitoring this would not be a bad idea. See normal radiation CPMs:

CPM
 
robsaw
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:19 pm

If the recent radiation counts are elevated it is almost certainly related to something originating outside of our planet (the radiation that is). Variations in anything from sun spots to the ionization of the upper atmosphere and varying magnetic-fields will create significant variations from average on radiation while at cruise altitude.
 
Grunf
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:39 pm

I've talked to a researcher who did extensive tests re this issue. Conclusion: pilots do have higher probability of suffering skin cancer. On their hands. Due to playing golf. I kid you not.
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adamh8297
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:51 pm

Some numbers:

Common unit of measurement of radiation exposure in US is the rem "Roentgen Equivalent Man"

Average exposure received on a transcon (BOS-LAX , JFK-SFO etc) = 0.005 rem

Maximum Body exposure allowed by NRC for a trained radiation worker = 5 rem per year
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UALWN
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:19 pm

Quoting adamh8297 (Reply 10):
Average exposure received on a transcon (BOS-LAX , JFK-SFO etc) = 0.005 rem

I believe 0.005 rem is for a transcontinental round-trip like JFK-SFO-JFK. The annual average dose in the US at sea level is about 0.30-0.35 rem, while it goes up to 0.45 or more around Denver, due to the altitude and all the natural uranium in the Colorado plateau.
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tommytoyz
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:24 pm

Thanks everyone. Good stuff.

Though I would not be surprised if the Fukushima accident has increased the exposure levels for airmen in certain areas. The disbursement of radioactivity in the Pacific is ongoing and to me, not trivial. The most common radioactive compound found in fish in the Pacific is Cesium-137 with a half life of 29 years. It is the most abundant compound released by Fukushima (and is still ongoing) This stuff does not simply go away. release into the atmosphere is unknown and may also be continuing.

Most of the studies on this are before such nuclear accidents. The post accident changes, is what I am interested in. Has it made a difference? I am afraid there is no clear answer to this.
 
KELPkid
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:58 pm

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 12):
Though I would not be surprised if the Fukushima accident has increased the exposure levels for airmen in certain areas. The disbursement of radioactivity in the Pacific is ongoing and to me, not trivial. The most common radioactive compound found in fish in the Pacific is Cesium-137 with a half life of 29 years. It is the most abundant compound released by Fukushima (and is still ongoing) This stuff does not simply go away. release into the atmosphere is unknown and may also be continuing.

Funny, I just read an article on that. It said that detectable levels of Cesium 137 and another radioactive isotope of Strontium (the two fission by-products of the most concern, BTW) will reach the US west coast by next spring, However, they are so diluted by the time that they get here that they pose "no appreciable risk" according to the IAEA. So yes, we'll know they're there, but they won't pose a risk for us. Unfortunately, you can't say the same for the residents of Japan along the the coast   Their fisheries will likely be affected for decades.
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Viscount724
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:57 pm

Didn't Concorde cabin crews operate a mix of Concorde and shorthaul European flights to limit their radiation exposure? That wouldn't work for the pilots.
 
JonasJ
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:42 am

CPM is a bad indicator because it does not say anything about the total energy of each particle (count). And it's also impossible to compare two different instruments' CPM values as every instrument will have a different sensitivity. So for a given radiation environment, one instrument can show 400 CPM while another only shows 100 CPM, due to detector size, material, particle energy etc.

For comparison; I work with radiation detection and the largest detector we work with has an average CPM of about 180'000 in "normal background", simply because of its size (4 Liters).
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a321luke
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:38 am

Interesting read here.

How did the guy manage to take a radiation reader through security? No fuss?
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Klaus
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:21 pm

Quoting a321luke (Reply 16):
How did the guy manage to take a radiation reader through security? No fuss?

Why should a passive detector be a major issue?
 
flyingturtle
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:09 pm

Quoting Klaus (Reply 17):

Well, some passengers could make a fuss. And raise the issue with the FA... and nobody knows what ends up in the pilots' ears.

I've once taken a pressure altimeter on a U2 flight. The woman beside me watched the diplay with suspicion... rising, rising, rising until it topped out at 2280 meters... and she said to me "I don't have to do ANYTHING with that!".


David
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Dufo
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:35 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 18):
I've once taken a pressure altimeter on a U2 flight.

Is that Easyjet or Lockheed U-2?  
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flyingturtle
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:38 am

Quoting Dufo (Reply 19):

No, just the ordinary aluminum tube that is about three meters wide...  


David
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Acey559
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:11 pm

I don't remember all the numbers offhand but the company I work for just added a bunch of pages to the limitations section of our aircraft manuals that deal with radiation and ozone. It's actually being taken into consideration when the dispatchers file our flight plans and we're supposed to be aware and descend if need be.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:27 am

Quoting Acey559 (Reply 21):
It's actually being taken into consideration when the dispatchers file our flight plans and we're supposed to be aware and descend if need be.

Does this mean the aircraft are equipped with radiation detectors for the pilots to see? I think it is rather smart, given radiation releases, such as Fukushima. However, descending may not help, if the source is man made.
 
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Acey559
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:12 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 22):

No we're not that fancy.   We have charts in our manuals that give numbers for standard radiation levels at given altitudes and latitude/longitude coordinates for certain times of the year. As far as man-made radiation I'm not aware of anything but we do take atmospheric radiation into consideration.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Radiation Exposure On Flights

Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:37 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 22):
Does this mean the aircraft are equipped with radiation detectors for the pilots to see? I think it is rather smart, given radiation releases, such as Fukushima. However, descending may not help, if the source is man made.

If I remember my operational procedures correctly, EASA regs state that dosimeters must be carried when operating above 49000 feet.

Otherwise you're just using tables like Acey559 says.
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