Occupational Radiation Doses of United Kingdom High Altitude Mountain Guides as a Result of Cosmic Ray Exposures
RP Alba Ltd’s director, Bob Kerr, is attempting to scale the highest peak on each of the world’s seven continents. These mountains are Mount Everest (Asia), Aconcagua (South America), Denali or Mount McKinley (North America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Carstensz Pyramid or Kosciuszko (Oceania/Australia), Mount Elbrus (Europe) and Mount Vinson (Antarctica). So far he has been to the top of six of these continents and one day he hopes to successfully scale, and more importantly safely descend, Mount Everest.
As part of this project, mountain guides from the United Kingdom have been used to assist in the safe completion of each of these mountains.
Mountain guides spend prolonged periods of time at altitude when travelling to/from their work places in aircraft and during the time that they spend on mountains. They travel as passengers on aircraft and receive cosmic radiation doses. When on the mountains they also receive cosmic radiation doses but because they are on the “ground” these doses are not currently classified as “occupational exposures” and are not currently assessed. The cosmic radiation doses received by aircrew are assessed even though some aircrew fly at altitudes lower than those being operated in by mountain guides.
At the 2012 International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA13) conference in Glasgow, a conference paper has been published illustrating the typical cosmic radiation doses that might be received by a United Kingdom High Altitude Mountain Guide whilst leading clients on each of the seven summits. This paper is hypothetical but provides a reasonable estimate of the typical doses received for a typical itinerary on each of the seven summits.
The paper concludes that mountain guides are occupationally exposed to radiation and that the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) should consider including mountain guides as a group of workers whom further consideration of occupational doses may need to be required.
RP Alba Ltd’s full conference paper and the associated illustrative conference poster can be found in the following pdf documents. Please be aware that the poster is 9 MB download and may not be an instantaneous display, the paper is only 108kb.