Responses to story on whether anyone is assessing radiation risks to domestic air travelers

Letters to the Editor

March 16, 2011 — If I want fear-mongering, I can watch Fox News. Your article suggesting, without any evidence, that US domestic air passengers might be at risk from radiation is no better or different than the sort of everyday terror Fox peddles. Come up with some wild idea, get a scientist or two to say they don’t know anything about the topic, and voila! “Experts Admit We’re Not Prepared!” I can’t wait to see your expose about our vulnerability to invasion from other planets.

Blake Gray (San Francisco, California)


March 18, 2011 — You do know that flying in commercial airplanes exposes you to Cosmic Radiation (Gamma Rays) at a much higher degree than particles of airborne contaminants such as Iodine–131 and Cesium 137 which has strong Gamma emission not Alpha. Airline crew are exposed to double the average amount of radiation a year for the typical American because of these cosmic rays and the altitude of flight. Quit trying to sensationalize this tragedy in Japan in order to spread fear of Nuclear Power.

Jim Bernhardt (Kennewick, Washington)


Editor’s Note: We’re neither interested in fear-mongering, nor in being diverted with comparisons with other sources of radiation, simply straight answers from government officials, something that we again did not get this week in connection with the question of what is the minimum level of airborne concentration of Cesium-137 that raises a concern about increased risk of medium- and long-term health consequences.

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