Overview of radiation environments and human exposures

Health Phys. 2000 Nov;79(5):470-94. doi: 10.1097/00004032-200011000-00005.


Human exposures to ionizing radiation have been vastly altered by developing technology in the last century. This has been most obvious in the development of radiation generating devices and the utilization of nuclear energy. But even air travel has had its impact on human exposure. Human exposure increases with advancing aircraft technology as a result of the higher operating altitudes reducing the protective cover provided by Earth's atmosphere from extraterrestrial radiations. This increase in operating altitudes is taken to a limit by human operations in space. Less obvious is the changing character of the radiations at higher altitudes. The associated health risks are less understood with increasing altitude due to the increasing complexity and new field components found in high-altitude and space operations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Altitude
  • Cosmic Radiation*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Solar Activity