Introduction To Flight Radiation Calculator

Travelers often wonder about the radiation exposure they receive during airplane flights. This calculator helps estimate cosmic radiation exposure, emphasizing responsible travel. It also addresses common misconceptions about airport security scans and compares flight radiation to medical procedures.

Radiation from Flying:

Fact Check: Contrary to popular belief, airport security checkpoints contribute minimally to radiation exposure. A 1-hour flight averages ~0.003 mSv, and body screening doses during security checks are generally safe. The primary source of in-flight radiation is cosmic radiation, intensifying at higher altitudes due to reduced atmospheric shielding.

Expert Assurance: Experts affirm that for the majority, airplane radiation poses negligible health risks. The thinning air at cruising altitudes (30,000-35,000 feet) allows planes to travel efficiently but exposes passengers to cosmic radiation. However, the risk is generally deemed insignificant.

Using the Flight Radiation Calculator:

Simple Steps:

  1. Enter your flight hours, considering variations for specific routes.
  2. View the calculated radiation dose, e.g., a 7-hour flight from New York to London results in 0.021 mSv.
  3. Optionally, compare this to standard medical procedures like X-rays and CT scans.

Interpreting Radiation Doses:

  • 1 mSv signifies a significant amount, with the U.S. average annual dose being 6.2 millisieverts.
  • Examples: 0.1 μSv (banana dose), 100 μSv (chest X-ray), 1,500-1,700 μSv (annual for flight attendants), and 10,000-30,000 μSv (single full-body CT scan).

Context Matters:

Remember that radiation is omnipresent. Background radiation from minerals in the ground, soil, water, and food is constant. Annual cosmic radiation levels vary with elevation, and human activities contribute only a fraction to background radiation.

Quick Comparison: Eating three bananas exposes you to a similar radiation level as a security screening.

Radiation in Daily Life:

Background Radiation: Radiation is ubiquitous, originating from minerals in the environment. Depending on elevation, annual cosmic radiation levels vary. Human activities, such as nuclear weapon tests or power plant accidents, contribute minimally to background radiation.

Geographical Considerations:

  • Sea level: 0.26 mSv
  • Up to 1000 ft: 0.02 mSv
  • Colorado Plateau area: 0.90 mSv
  • Other U.S. states: 0.46 mSv


Understanding radiation exposure helps dispel misconceptions. With negligible risks from airplane radiation, travelers can focus on responsible and informed decision-making.