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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2011 Nov;82(11):1049-54.

Assessment of occupational cosmic radiation exposure of flight attendants using questionnaire data.

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  • 1National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA.



Female flight attendants may have a higher risk of breast and other cancers than the general population because of routine exposure to cosmic radiation. As part of a forthcoming study of breast and other cancer incidence, occupational cosmic radiation exposure of a cohort of female flight attendants was estimated.


Questionnaire data were collected from living female cohort members who were formerly employed as flight attendants with Pan American World Airways. These data included airline at which the flight attendant was employed, assigned domicile, start and end dates for employment at domicile, and number of block hours and commuter segments flown per month. Questionnaire respondents were assigned daily absorbed and effective doses using a time-weighted dose rate specific to the domicile and/or work history era combined with self-reported work history information.


Completed work history questionnaires were received from 5898 living cohort members. Mean employment time as a flight attendant was 7.4 yr at Pan Am and 12 yr in total. Estimated mean annual effective dose from all sources of occupational cosmic radiation exposure was 2.5 +/- 1.0 mSv, with a mean career dose of 30 mSv.


Annual effective doses were similar to doses assessed for other flight attendant cohorts; however, questionnaire-based cumulative doses assessed in this study were on average higher than those assessed for other flight attendant cohorts using company-based records. The difference is attributed to the inclusion of dose from work at other airlines and commuter flights, which was made possible by using questionnaire data.

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