DNC News


DNC NEWS: Radiation exposure while flying


Subject: A recent question: I fly as part of my job and wonder if it is safe to do this if I am pregnant?


        Here is something to worry about that is rarely talked about. The earth's atmosphere protects us from much of the harmful radiation that bombards the earth from space. Flying high in the atmosphere exposes us to greater amounts of radiation. I've read that flying from coast to coast is equivalent to a chest x-ray. (Don't quote me on that fact please)

       This does not seem to be a major concern for the average flyer. But for frequent flyers and certainly for individuals who fly regularly as part of their employment, this exposure may add up. Radiation exposure varies considerably from hour to hour. The most significant event causing an increase in radiation is called a solar flare.           Numerous laboratories monitor solar flares very closely. There are times when the predictions for a solar flare's intensity are so strong that pilots are grounded. (This is not discussed with the general public.) Although we may get away with extra radiation exposure much of the time, this is something that we should not ignore during pregnancy. There are several websites which give up to the minute reports on solar flare activity and forecast radiation exposure.

      If you are pregnant and wisely concerned you might actually check the radiation forecasts before flying. The labs that monitor the solar flares give hourly predictions.

       The following web sites will guide you to current and hourly data and a
guide to understanding the risk scale:

This web site will allow you to calculate your predicted dose of
radiation based on hours of flying time:

These web sites discuss in more detail the dangers of solar flare
radiation, flying and pregnancy:


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