Estimated radiation exposure of German commercial airline cabin crew in the years 1960-2003 modeled using dose registry data for 2004-2015

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Abstract

Exposure to ionizing radiation of cosmic origin is an occupational risk factor in commercial aircrew. In a historic cohort of 26,774 German aircrew, radiation exposure was previously estimated only for cockpit crew using a job-exposure matrix (JEM). Here, a new method for retrospectively estimating cabin crew dose is developed. The German Federal Radiation Registry (SSR) documents individual monthly effective doses for all aircrew. SSR-provided doses on 12,941 aircrew from 2004 to 2015 were used to model cabin crew dose as a function of age, sex, job category, solar activity, and male pilots' dose; the mean annual effective dose was 2.25 mSv (range 0.01-6.39 mSv). In addition to an inverse association with solar activity, exposure followed age- and sex-dependent patterns related to individual career development and life phases. JEM-derived annual cockpit crew doses agreed with SSR-provided doses for 2004 (correlation 0.90, 0.40 mSv root mean squared error), while the estimated average annual effective dose for cabin crew had a prediction error of 0.16 mSv, equaling 7.2% of average annual dose. Past average annual cabin crew dose can be modeled by exploiting systematic external influences as well as individual behavioral determinants of radiation exposure, thereby enabling future dose-response analyses of the full aircrew cohort including measurement error information.

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