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Cosmic Radiation

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Cosmic Radiation


The general public at present have very little understanding of cosmic radiation at present.

What is cosmic radiation?


Radiation is electronically charged atoms known as ions which originate from outer space. In our everyday lives, we are exposed to radiation, though only relatively small quantities as the earth's atmosphere acts as a strong barrier.

Naturally, at altitude the atmosphere is thinner, and so our exposure to radiation increases. For the vast majority of fliers these short periods at altitude do not represent a significantly long enough period exposed to cosmic radiation.

Frequent fliers and airline staff, however, can spend a large proportion of their time at altitude and thus have a longer exposure to radiation, which can be 100 - 300 times the level found at sea level.

It is paramount to stress, that the average traveller is unlikely to fly regularly enough to experience any direct effects from cosmic aviation. Though, as Robert Souhami, dean of the Medical School at University College, London notes, radiation risk is dosage related, so the more you fly the greater the risk.

Whether workers in the aviation industry are effected, however, is yet to be determined, though a number of studies have been carried out to investigate the biological effects of ionizing radiation to frequent fliers. As with other forms of radiation, results have shown that this could lead to genetic mutations in human egg cells and sperm cell, which could lead to complications when the foetus develops.