Airline pilots can be exposed to the same amount of radiation as that from a tanning bed session because windshields do not completely block UV-A radiation.
The plane windshields are commonly made of polycarbonate plastic or multilayer composite glass. UV-A radiation can cause DNA damage in cells and its role in melanoma is well known, according a research letter published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
Martina Sanlorenzo,of the University of California, San Francisco, and co-authors measured the amount of UV radiation in airplane cockpits during flights and compared them with tanning bed readings.
The findings show pilots flying for 56.6 minutes at 30,000 feet get the same amount of radiation as that from a 20-minute tanning bed session.
The authors suggest the levels could be higher when pilots are flying over thick clouds and snow fields, which can reflect UV radiation.
“UV-A transmission inside airplanes can play a role in pilots’ increased risk of melanoma. We strongly recommend the use of sunscreens and periodical skin checks for pilots and cabin crew,” the authors say.
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