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Frequent Flying & Radiation Threat to The Heart

flying1299046221700Exposure to radiation experienced by frequent fliers may damage the heart, new research suggests. Even low doses are linked with a significantly increased risk of heart damage decades after exposure. When flying, the heart is placed under stress from radiation given off in airport body scanners, as well as that which hits the plane from space. This radiation exposure may reduce the heart’s ability to contract.

Published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, examined how human arteries respond to a relatively low radiation dose of 0.5 Gy – the equivalent of repeated CT scans.

Results revealed that after exposure, cells in the inner layer of blood vessels produce reduced amounts of nitric oxide – a molecule that is essential for contraction. Cells damaged by low-dose radiation also produce increased amounts of reactive oxygen species. These play an important role in cell signalling but can damage DNA and proteins in excessive amounts.

Exposure to radiation experienced by frequent fliers may damage the heart, new research suggests. Even low doses are linked with a significantly increased risk of heart damage decades after exposure. When flying, the heart is placed under stress from radiation given off in airport body scanners, as well as that which hits the plane from space. This radiation exposure may reduce the heart’s ability to contract.

Published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, examined how human arteries respond to a relatively low radiation dose of 0.5 Gy – the equivalent of repeated CT scans.

Results revealed that after exposure, cells in the inner layer of blood vessels produce reduced amounts of nitric oxide – a molecule that is essential for contraction. Cells damaged by low-dose radiation also produce increased amounts of reactive oxygen species. These play an important role in cell signalling but can damage DNA and proteins in excessive amounts.

Study author Dr Omid Azimzadeh said: “Your heart is under stress. Ionising radiation from air travel, x-rays and CT scans can have [a] harmful effect. Even doses around 0.5Gy have been associated with a significantly increased risk with a long lag time, up to decades.”

Pilots and flight attendants on many airline routes are exposed to more radiation than most workers in nuclear power plants, a 1990 US Department of Transportation study found. In power plants the Government imposes extensive safety requirements, including education, monitoring and procedures to minimize dose, but no such limits are applied for the flight crews.

For airline personnel, the report likened the level of risk to that from working in cabins filled with cigarette smoke. The report also noted a higher risk to ”very frequent fliers” on long trips and to women in early pregnancy.

As a result, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) worked out recommendations regarding annual dose limit, for example, and these were adopted into European Law in 1996 and German legislation in August 2001.

The web site EPCARD allows flyers to calculate the dose, which you would receive along a specified flight due to cosmic radiation. Additionally, you may determine the dose, which is accumulated during a stay of one hour at any flight position in the atmosphere.

https://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/en/epcard-neu/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

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