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The Flight Crew Research Program at NIOSH


Over 198,000 U.S. flight personnel work in commercial aircraft cabins with potential exposure to cosmic ionizing radiation, alterations of circadian rhythm from travel across time zones, cabin pollutants such as tobacco smoke and ozone, physical demands such as prolonged standing, and psychological demands such as job stress. Few studies have characterized air cabin exposures and health outcomes among U.S. flight crew. In partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Cancer Institute, the HHS Office of Women’s Health and the Department of Defense Women’s Health Research Program, NIOSH has established a program of research in this unique occupational group. Studies are underway to characterize exposures in the aircraft cabin environment and to examine a variety of health effects in flight attendants and pilots. Health effects under investigation include menstrual function, pregnancy outcome, infertility, cancer, respiratory symptoms, job stress, physical demands and overall mortality. These studies will help scientists to determine if flight crews’ working environments put them at risk of adverse health effects, and if so, what measures would be needed to reduce that risk.

Current Reports:

Note: Links to papers published in journals connect to abstracts and bibliographic information in NIOSHTIC-2, the NIOSH publications database. NIOSHTIC-2 entries include links to source journals

Related Resources

Cosmic Radiation and Air Travel
External Link:
 this document in PDF PDF150 KB (4 pages) 
World Health Organization Information Sheet November 2005


NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations:

NIOSH conducts Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) to find out whether there are health hazards to employees caused by exposures or conditions in the workplace.

Other Web Sites:

What Commercial Aircraft Crewmembers Should Know About Their Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation
External Link:
 this document in PDF PDF 682 KB (14 pages) 
Training guide prepared by the FAA's Civil Aeospace Medical Institute (CAMI).

FAA's Radiobiology Research Team page
External Link:
Features "CARI-6," on online calculator that determines estimated radiation doses received on an aircraft flying a great circle route between any two airports in the world.

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Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation and Field Studies

Flight Crew Research airplane in flight

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Current Reports

Related Resources