Monday, November 15, 2010

Not so Friendly Skies

A lot of news is published about potential dangers of receiving radiation from airport screening machines, but our attention should be focused someplace higher. I've been reading Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy which dispels many myths about radiation including those that we should be worried about radiation from nuclear power plants and airport scanners. The fact is that the sun is one of most dangerous bodies as far as radiation is concerned. Simply living at a higher elevation exposes you to more radiation. Even more dangerous is flying 30,000 feet above the earth for extended periods of time. Yes, a career as a flight attendant is much more dangerous than living next to a nuclear power plant as far as radiation is concerned. A paper to be published next month argues that frequent fliers be classified as radiation works so that they will be warned of the risks and monitored for radiation exposure.

Of course, people tend to be awful at judging risks. A flight attendant might only commute once-or-twice a week versus 4-5 times a week for a "normal" job. Assume that commute is by car and 30 miles each way. Simply doing 3 fewer commutes per week lessens the chance of death by car accident by appx. 0.004% per year. This is based on 1.9 deaths per car passenger mile; compare this to 0.03 deaths per air passenger mile.

No comments:

Post a Comment