Japan: If You Fly From LAX to Tokyo, Will You be Exposed to Radiation in the Jet Stream?

Japan: If You Fly From LAX to Tokyo, Will You be Exposed to Radiation in the Jet Stream?
Japan Airlines

If you fly to Japan, will you be exposed to radiation, possibly in the not-so-friendly skies?

It's a possibility. But you won't hear that from U.S. officials. At least not yet. The U.S. State Department issued an alert last weekend telling Americans to avoid travel to the earthquake-and-tsunami ravaged country.

But there's no information about the possibility of radiation exposure via air travel. And that's an important consideration for regulars at LAX, which is one of the nation's biggest jumping-off points for travel to Tokyo.

Journalist Craig Gurian brings up the question in a piece this week:

A spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration told him, " ... We have no expertise on what this is going to mean for [domestic] air travel at this point."


We do know that radioactive particles from Japan's ailing Fukushima reactors will end up in the jet stream that heads our way everyday. And experts here have said we don't have to worry about harmful levels of radiation from Japan. At least not yet.

Singapore Airlines this week delayed the launch of Airbus A380 service between LAX and Tokyo, acknowledging "lesser demand" for flights to Japan.

Heading into that jet stream in a metal tube could be a crap shoot.

Gurian writes that a spokeswoman for the FAA was ...

... unable to tell us whether and in what circumstances the FAA had ever suspended or partially suspended air flights because of what was thought to be radioactive contamination of the jet stream, what level of ambient radiologic activity in the jet stream had been determined by the agency to represent too great a hazard to public health, and what studies the agency had done on the consequences to the environmental integrity of the jet stream over the United States from events -- the Chernobyl disaster being the most obvious illustration -- that originated elsewhere.

Not that a lot of you are going to Japan anytime soon. Tokyo has been looking like a ghost town. But some folks in L.A. will have to go there eventually for family and business.

Don't hold your breath. Or maybe do.


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