[ RadSafe ] In-Flight radiation

Robert Barish robbarish at verizon.net
Mon Feb 2 17:18:31 CST 2015

Included here is most of a posting I sent to RADSAFE sixteen months ago:

These are some of my papers on the subject, including three in Health Physics:

R.J. Barish. Health Physics Concerns in Commercial Aviation. Health Phys. 59: 199-204 (1990)

R.J. Barish. Health Physics and Aviation: 1990-1994. Health Phys. 69: 538-542 (1995)

R.J. Barish. In-Flight Radiation: Counseling Patients About Risk. J. Am. Board. Fam. Pract. 12: 195-199 (1999)

R.J. Barish. In-Flight Radiation During Pregnancy. Obstet. Gynecol. 103: 1326-1330 (2004)

R.J. Barish. Radiation Risk from Airline Travel. J. Am. Coll. Radiol. 1: 784-785 (2004) 

R.J. Barish. Health Physics and Aviation: Solar Cycle 23 (1996-2008). Health Phys. 96: 456-464 (2009)

R.J. Barish and S. Dilchert. Human Resource Responsibilities: Frequent Flier Radiation Exposure. Employ Respons Rights J. 22: 361-369 (2010)

(The last paper specifically addresses the issue of frequent flyer exposures and potential employer obligations to those workers.)

and there’s also my book:

R.J. Barish. The Invisible Passenger: Radiation Risks for People Who Fly, 2nd Edition, Advanced Medical Publishing (Madison, WI: 2008) ISBN: 1-883526-13-2, ISBN13 978-1-883526-13-2

To be honest, after seeing the European Union require mandatory dose assessment for flight crew in 1990, while the FAA still to this date makes the subject a voluntary educational topic for airline management to either teach or ignore, I’ve just about given up on any further interest in the topic.

CDC-NIOSH has been performing epidemiological studies on groups of female flight attendants looking for increased mortality from breast cancer and melanoma. Their results on a cohort of more than 11,000 women show “ no evidence of increased breast cancer or melanoma mortality.” Pinkerton LE, Waters MA, Hein MJ, Zivkovich Z, Schubauer-Berigan MK, Grajewski B. Cause-specific mortality among a cohort of U.S. flight attendants. Am J Ind Med. 2012 Jan;55(1):25-36.

So unless one is interested in using these thousands of low-dose (but definitely measurable) exposures of hundreds of thousands of flight crew members to advance the idea that exposures in this range refute the LNT hypothesis, I don’t see much more coming out that will be useful. 

Perhaps the added exposures discussed in detail by Shonka and Bramlett (SPE, SNE, SGE) in their January Health Phys paper make the failure to note any increase in cancer mortality by CDC even more supportive of the possible failure of LNT.

Robert Barish, CHP

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