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View Full Version : Cargo/airline pilot cancer rates

05-17-2007, 07:01 PM
Can anyone direct me to some information concerning the cancer rates of cargo pilots (ones which carry routinely radioactive materials) and airline pilots?

05-18-2007, 02:40 PM
Don't get caught up in paranoid delusions about "nuclear" hazards...

Regarding radioactive materials, the shipping requirements are very stringent. Only low level stuff is normally shipped commercially, higher-level stuff is handled by specialty couriers or the government.

The radiation measureable at the surface of the container would be negligible, and only the guy handling it would even be exposed to that. The radiation level drops per the radius cubed, so a pilot sitting even ten feet away would be exposed to 1/1,000 the level at one foot from the conatainer.

You would not be exposed to any contamination unless the container ruptured.

Regarding occupational exposure, I have a close relative who is health physicist, and we ran the numbers for exposure to cosmic and solar radiation at altitude. There is a very, very slight increase in cancer risk based on the increase in radiation exposure. We used a long-haul guy as an example, a regional or 135 pilot flying lower altitudes and up and down a lot would experience negligible risk. I try to offset what little risk there is with anti-oxidants.

Actually I think the real health risks we confront are caused by crycadian disruptions, dehydration, vibration (prop planes), chemical exposure (jet A)and poor diet. Drink lots of water and take your vitamins.

Airline pilots, boxers, and jack-hammer operators all have an unusually high incidence of ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease). The only obvious common factor here is vibration/impact. Remember most of the old guys who worked long to become a statistic had significant prop time. I doubt jets don't contribute to this problem. I'd like to see a study on props vs. jets.

05-18-2007, 07:39 PM
Really vibrations? That ALS stuff is scary... I am a biology major and my specialty if you want to call it that is neuroscience... ok you can beat cancer - you can't do a thing for ALS. It is really bad! Is the increased risk of ALS really greatly significant? Or are the chances still extremely low? Also is Jet-A notoriously toxic?

I have read the MSDS sheets on the 100LL and is troublesome. There is several varieties of Benzene in it, Toluine (neurotoxin), and of course the Tetra-ethyl lead which is by far the worst... point being, after taking Organic chem and realizing the toxicological data on these solvents and additives, you will not touch that stuff again and ever feel ok about it. Thats why I make contact with my hands when I am sumping etc extremely minimal,meaning I wear a Nitril glove, and furthur more the crap stinks and I don't want it on my skin. That organic lead is lipid soluable and will go right into your skin... And some people are like "I have handled it for 40 years and I am still here" and I am thinking "right ok, true, can't argue, wonder how many of your neurons it has killed!?"

Its nasty...