Airport Scanners: Are They Putting You in Danger?

November 20, 2010

By Dr. Manny Alvarez & Karlie Pouliot, FOX News

The new full-body scanners in place at 60 airports across the country have been causing outrage in recent weeks – and that’s putting it pretty mildly.

From lawsuits being lodged against the Transportation Security Administration due to their “intrusive” pat-down procedures, to passengers getting into scuffles with TSA agents, these new scanners are creating a lot of turmoil. And as the busiest travel days of the year fast approach – with more than 1.6 million Americans expected to flock to airports over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – there’s no telling how some passengers are going to react.

But let’s move past all of that for now and concentrate on the safety of the backscatter X-ray scanners. What I want to know is – are we putting our health at risk every time we walk through one these machines at an airport? And because I’m an OB-GYN, I am also concerned about women who are pregnant. Could these scans affect a fetus?

To get a little insight into that, we contacted Dr. David Schauer, executive director of the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP) in Bethesda, Md.

Q. How much radiation does one of these backscatter X-ray scanners actually emit?

A. Radiation exposure is reported in units called millirem (mrem). The effective dose per scan of 0.01 mrem is 100 times less than the annual negligible individual dose (NID) of 1 mrem recommended by the NCRP. It would therefore require at least 100 scans of the same individual in a year to reach an amount that is considered negligible.

To put that into perspective, a typical chest X-ray is over a thousand times greater than what a person is exposed to per scan when they walk through an airport full-body scanner.

To read more, visit: Airport Scanners: Are They Putting You in Danger?

3 Comments - what are your thoughts?



  • Tighernaigh says:

    If you believe Schauer, I have a bridge for sale! Your dentist doesn’t wrap you in lead drapes for no good reason. I worked in the Nuclear Weapons Complex and confirmed too many fact/fiction anomalies to take this at face value. Remember, TSA’s first ‘confidence booster’ was ‘equivalent to 2 minutes @ FL300’. By that standard, an average international flight crew would receive a ‘lifetime dose’ every two to three years. Until the particle emission data [alpha, beta. gamma/slow neutron and ‘X’] and average exposure dose are confirmed by an independent NGO, I shall remain sceptical.

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