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Nov 07

Airline frequent fliers ‘radiation poisoning risks’ from space ‘solar flare’ storm activity

Airline frequent fliers are at greater risk of developing long term radiation poisoning from “solar space storms” or flare activity from the Sun, a new study warns.

By Andrew Hough

Airline frequent flyers 'radiation poisoning risks' from space 'solar flare' storm activity

Experts warned passengers could be subjected to increasing risk to cancer due to such radiation levels. Photo: CORBIS
Airline frequent flyers 'radiation poisoning risks' from space 'solar flare' storm activity

The Sun’s power is getting stronger and is expected to peak by 2013. Photo: NASA/REUTERS
Airline frequent flyers 'radiation poisoning risks' from space 'solar flare' storm activity

NASA satellites monitoring solar flares. Communications could be downed by such space activity. Photo: NASA

Researchers found passengers faced the “hazard” of space radiation, which created unhealthy levels of exposure while flying at “typical cruise altitudes” of 40,000 feet.

Experts warned passengers could be subjected to increasing risk to cancer due to such radiation levels.

Nasa scientists believe the earth is facing danger from a once-in-a-century “solar flare”, a disturbance on the Sun’s surface that could cause geomagnetic storms on this planet.

One in the mid-19th century blocked the nascent telegraph system and many scientists believe another is overdue.

Researchers from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxon, warned that the electrical grid, computers, telephones, transportation, water supply and food production faced “huge disturbances” from space storms.

Their vulnerability is also blamed on humans’ “creeping dependency” on modern technology. For example there are about 4.9 billion mobile phone “connections” every month.

Scientists found aircrew were “the major occupation group” most exposed to the Sun’s radiation with passengers also at risk from the phenomenon.

Because the sun’s radiation levels had been reasonably low for the past century, its strengthening power in the coming few years would create new health problems.

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