Are radiation levels at high altitudes dangerous?

My interest in radiation at high altitude is to find out, for myself, exactly what the levels of in-flight radiation are.  Are they dangerous?  Should we take an interest in them?  Should aircrew and frequent flyers be concerned?  Or are they low enough as to not cause a worry.  I’m no rabble-rouser and so I would be delighted if I find that radiation in flight is nothing to be concerned about.  If so, this will be a very short blog.  However, if the radiation levels seem pretty high, then I’ll delve into ways your own radiation exposure (and mine too!) can be mitigated over the long run.  Perhaps a healthy person will not suffer from radiation as much as someone who’s unhealthy.  Who knows?  I’m going to figure all this out.

I am a Gulfstream pilot and I fly all over the world.  My aircraft can go as high as 45,000’ so it’s going to be a good plane to get some good data.

Polimaster, maker of radiation detectors, has given me a slick gadget that connects to an iPhone or iPad and reads gamma radiation.  It’s called the Polismart II (model 1904) and It’s a brand new product for them.  I’m helping them beta test it, so this blog will also be attached to their website.

I fly between 500 and 800 hours a year.  I’m not an airline pilot, I’m a corporate pilot (I fly the rich guys) so I probably don’t fly as much as the airline guys.  Some of those guys can approach 1000 hours a year in the cockpit.  And let’s not forget that a lot of them spend a lot of time in the back, commuting to and from work.  This blog is really for them and the frequent flyers they fly.  The flight attendants, pilots and frequent flyers, flying short and long-haul routes, around the world, should know about in-flight radiation levels.  According to some, they receive more radiation, on the job, than in any other industry.  That may sound shocking, but let’s just wait and see.  I’m going to get some solid numbers and maybe I’ll find out that it’s really not that bad.

So, if you’re interested, stay tuned and let me start doing some trips with my new radiation detector.  I’ll be posting the numbers and the iPhone screen shots from my trips.  No matter if the numbers are high or low, I’ll post them.  And you can have the same data that I’m getting and can draw your own conclusions.

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