Europe has banned the use of X-ray body scanners in airports, because they cause cancer. The EU set a new regulation on November 12, 2011, that the scanners are too dangerous for use on the general public. The United States has over 250 of these body scanners in use and the federal security agency TSA plans to increase deployment everywhere.
The scanners have never been tested for their safety because, unlike medical X-ray scanners, they are not regulated by the the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One independent study found that the use of these scanners on hundreds of millions of airline passengers will cause between 6 and 100 cancer cases EACH year.
TSA takes the position that security is more important than passenger health. In a comment on the European ban the TSA said that over 300 dangerous objects had been detected by the use of the X-ray scanners.
The scanners are designed such that a small radiation dose is projected onto the body surface. The radiation, the TSA says, is similar to the radiation exposure of 5 minutes flying. What they fail to mention is that normal background radiation is absorbed by the whole body, and that the X-ray airport radiation goes only skin deep. This concentrates the relatively small amount of dangerous radiation in a small area. Accordingly, the radiation of the skin is very high, and will cause genetic mutations in the skin organ.
Airport security workers are completely ignored in the safety discussion. Close proximity exposure to TSA staff to the radiation waves, which will deflect in the open environment, is fully ignored as a safety hazard. Anyone who has ever had a hospital X-ray taken, knows that the radiologist steps safely behind a lead wall. The radiologist also wears a badge that measures total radiation exposure over time. No such precautions are taken for TSA workers.
The introduction of the airport X-ray scanners was very controversial, because the politicians who made the decision took campaign donations and other contributions from the scanner company, Rapidscan.
Every air traveler in the US has the right to refuse the X-ray body scanner and request a manual pat down instead. Be prepared to be treated with great suspicion and delay when you ask for a pat down. Furthermore, the machine that analyzes chemicals on the TSA agent’s gloves is set to very low limits and will most likely trigger an alarm that will result in second or third pat down. The third pat down will be in an enclosed room. The purpose of this all is to hassle anyone who doesn’t want to go along.