Airline Frequent Fliers 'Radiation Poisoning Risks' From Space 'Solar Flare' Storm Activity

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Airline frequent
fliers are at greater risk of developing long term radiation poisoning
from “solar space storms” or flare activity from the Sun,
a new study warns.

Researchers
found passengers faced the “hazard” of space radiation,
which created unhealthy levels of exposure while flying at “typical
cruise altitudes” of 40,000 feet.

Experts warned
passengers could be subjected to increasing risk to cancer due to
such radiation levels.

Nasa scientists
believe the earth is facing danger from a once-in-a-century “solar
flare”, a disturbance on the Sun’s surface that could cause
geomagnetic storms on this planet.

One in the
mid-19th century blocked the nascent telegraph system and many scientists
believe another is overdue.

Researchers
from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxon, warned that the electrical
grid, computers, telephones, transportation, water supply and food
production faced “huge disturbances” from space storms.

Their vulnerability
is also blamed on humans’ “creeping dependency” on
modern technology. For example there are about 4.9 billion mobile
phone “connections” every month.

Scientists
found aircrew were “the major occupation group” most exposed
to the Sun’s radiation with passengers also at risk from the
phenomenon.

Because the
sun’s radiation levels had been reasonably low for the past
century, its strengthening power in the coming few years would create
new health problems.

“Space
radiation is a hazard not only to the operation of modern aircraft
but also to the health of aircrew and passengers,” said the
study, titled Space weather and its impact on Earth – implications
for business.

“Radiation
from space can reach the Earth’s atmosphere and create extra
radiation exposure for people travelling on aircraft at typical
cruise altitudes (40,000 feet).

“The radiation
risk to passengers is usually much less than that for aircrew since
most passenger spend less time in the air (and) the radiation doses
accumulate with time in flight, especially at cruise altitudes.”

The study,
published by Lloyds of London, the insurance market, added: “However,
frequent fliers whose time in the air approaches that of aircrew
are equally at risk. There is, as yet, no legal framework for handling
such risks.”

Read
the rest of the article

November
16, 2010

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