A long-serving flight attendant who frequently worked long-haul flights that crossed the North Pole has died of stomach cancer, which the Korean Labor Court determined was probably brought on by years of exposure to cosmic radiation.
The Korea Worker’s Compensation & Welfare Service heard that Song, the flight attendant, worked for Korean Air from 1995 to 2021 and logged up to 1,022 hours on aircraft annually.
Cosmological radiation, as the name implies, originates in space, and although very little of it reaches Earth, crew members and passengers are exposed to higher radiation levels at high altitudes.
Long-haul flights are even more at risk from cosmic radiation, particularly those that cross the North or South Poles where the Earth’s atmosphere’s protection is much thinner.
Although many authorities advise limiting exposure to ionizing radiation, as measured by mSv, as low as possible, the effects of cosmic radiation on humans are still not fully understood on a global scale.
Of all US workers exposed to radiation, aircrew receives the highest average yearly effective dose (3.07 mSv), according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.
In contrast, it was discovered that between 2017 and 2021, radiation exposure in Korea averaged 5.42 millisieverts (mSv).
Korean Air defended itself by saying that it had ensured that flight attendants never experienced exposure to more than 6 mSv annually, which is the maximum that several aviation organizations, including the European Air Safety Agency, recommend.
The airline further contended that the court was unable to establish a connection between the flight attendant’s cancer and their exposure to cosmic radiation because there is still an absence of knowledge regarding the effects of this radiation.
The Yonhap news agency reports that the court dismissed that argument and found a “considerable” correlation.