Trivia

Hard

Workers In Which Of These Non-Nuclear Industries Are Classified As “Radiation Workers” By The CDC?

Port Inspection
Asphalt Production
Airlines
Banana Packing
An airliner taking off from Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport in Tricity, Poland.
Andrzej Otrebski/Wikimedia

Answer: Airlines

Every time you board an airplane and take to the friendly skies for business or pleasure, you’re exposed to a tiny, tiny dose of cosmic radiation at a higher level than you would be exposed to down on the ground. For the average traveler or even a jet-set business person flying from coast to coast every week for work, the yearly exposure is trivial and nothing to worry about.

For workers in the airline industry, however, especially the air crews that man the vast fleets of planes in the air at any given moment, the exposure is more significant. In fact, the yearly exposure for a pilot, flight attendant, or other crew member is so high that not only does the Center for Disease Control classify airline crews as radiation workers due to the level of exposure, but among all radiation workers in the U.S., air crews get the highest annual dosage.

There is, however, a silver lining to this otherwise (seemingly) shocking fact. Even though air crews are exposed to the highest occupational levels of radiation, this is largely due to the fact that industry regulations are so stringent that even people who work with radioactive materials on a daily basis are exposed to an incredibly small amount of radiation. As a related and relevant fact, for example, Grand Central Station in New York City has higher levels of radiation present (because of the slightly radioactive granite the station is constructed from) than would be permissible at a nuclear power plant.

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