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Keywords:

  • cosmic radiation;
  • flight attendants;
  • exposure assessment;
  • aircraft;
  • flight crew;
  • retrospective

Abstract

Background

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is conducting cohort studies of flight crew employed by the former Pan American World Airways company (Pan Am) as part of an effort to examine flight crew workplace exposures and health effects. Flight crew are exposed to elevated levels of cosmic radiation and to disruption of circadian rhythm when flying across multiple time zones. Methods exist to calculate cosmic radiation effective doses on individual flights; however, only work histories which provided an employee's domicile (home base) history rather than a record of every flight flown were available.

Methods/Results

We developed a method for estimating individual cumulative domicile-based cosmic radiation effective doses and two metrics for circadian rhythm disruption for each flight attendant: cumulative times zones crossed and cumulative travel time during the standard sleep interval.

Conclusions

The domicile-exposure matrix developed was used to calculate exposure estimates for a cohort mortality study of former Pan Am flight attendants. Am. J. Ind. Med. 52:751–761, 2009. Published 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.