Noise in Airplane Cabins
Pilots and flight attendants working in airplane cabins are not likely to be exposed to noise that exceeds OSHA’s permissible exposure limit, according to a report released in November by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report was based on GAO’s review of 10 published studies that measured noise inside aircraft, recent OSHA enforcement activity, reports on aircraft noise maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration, and interviews with officials from OSHA, NIOSH, FAA, aviation trade associations, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers.
Labor groups expressed concerns to GAO about the noise exposures of pilots and flight attendants inside operational aircraft, particularly noise caused by old or malfunctioning equipment such as faulty door seals. However, GAO found few instances of noise-related complaints made by pilots and flight attendants to OSHA or FAA. For the purposes of its report, GAO excluded data on noise concerns from malfunctioning equipment because it did not represent normal operating conditions.
Further information from the report appears below.

From “Commercial Aviation: Pilots’ and Flight Attendants’ Exposure to Noise aboard Aircraft”: “Airlines and aircraft manufacturers that we interviewed told us that noise measurements taken in their aircraft are below the OSHA standard. However, officials from labor groups representing pilots and flight attendants told us that while noise levels likely do not exceed the OSHA standard, they believe crewmembers nonetheless are sometimes exposed to unsafe levels of noise that could result in hearing loss or fatigue.”
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In August, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a student intern and a researcher at Oak Ridge Associated Universities had devised an experiment to replicate the McCluskey incident in order to study the effects of radiation on the body. By irradiating vials of their own blood for different lengths of time, the researchers hope to generate data that clinicians and first responders can refer to following an exposure incident.

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