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Abstract

Radiation from both natural and artificial sources is an inescapable and undeniable reality of human existence. Aside from exposure to radiation from a wide variety of natural sources including background ionizing radiation and electromagnetic fields from the earth, the increasing multiplicity of scientific and technological advancements and the growing complexities of the urbanization process are combining to elevate the susceptibility of mankind to non-ionizing radiation from electromagnetic fields. Debates regarding the health outcomes of occupational radiation exposures in aviation have been intense in recent times with a focus that appears predominantly riveted on in-flight radiation exposures. Whereas the vast majority of the literature are focused predominantly on the occupational radiation exposures of air crew members and, to a lesser extent, air traffic controllers, little or no attention has been given to the occupational radiation exposures of CNS/ATM (Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management) technical personnel, otherwise known as air traffic safety electronics personnel (ATSEP), whose working environments involve both short-term and long-term interactions with a wide variety of CNS/ATM systems emitting electromagnetic energies of different frequencies and wavelengths. This paper explored - based on a systematic review of literature - issues surrounding occupational radiation exposures in aviation operations with an emphasis on the occupational radiation exposures of ATSEPs to non-ionizing radiation. Based on an analysis of perspectives arising from the qualitative synthesis of evidence provided by both experimental and epidemiological studies, the paper concluded that ATSEPs are an occupationally exposed aviation professional group. The need for the establishment of standards that are consistent with current evidence regarding the adverse health consequences of non-ionizing radiation exposure was also stressed. Having regard to the complexity of exposures in the ATSEP working environments, a number of suggestions were made towards mitigating the health risks consequent upon occupational exposures to non-ionizing radiation.

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