The Transportation Security Administration plans to have 450 body-scanning machines operating at 33 airports by the end of the year. The agency would get another 500 next year, under President Barack Obama's proposed budget.
The machines can detect non-metallic threats, such as weapons and explosives.
But the question is, “Are the airport x-rays machines safe?”
American College of Radiology says the increased cancer risks from the x-rays is unlikely: “Both types of scanners used by the TSA use low level rays that pose essentially no cancer risk.”
The group claims the devices use such low level radio waves that DNA won’t be damaged. It says travelers would need to have 2,500 scans to raise cancer risk by even a tiny amount.
However, health care providers and manufacturers of radiation emitting diagnostic equipment in this country have always downplayed the dangers of x-rays. Recently, concerns have been expressed about the wide usage of CT scans. Groups also are looking at the link between radiation exposure and breast cancer.
Scientists say radiation from the scanners has been underestimated and could be particularly risky for children, reports the Mail Online’s “Airport Body Scanners ‘Could Give You Cancer,’ Warns Expert.”
They say that the low level beam does deliver a small dose of radiation to the body but because the beam concentrates on the skin – one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body – that dose may be up to 20 times higher than first estimated.
David Brenner, M.D., head of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research, said in the article that although the danger posed to the individual passenger is “very low,” he is urging researchers to carry out more tests on the device to look at the way it affects specific groups who could be more sensitive to radiation.
Brenner said children and passengers with gene mutations – around one in 20 of the population – are more at risk as they are less able to repair x-ray damage to their DNA.
You don’t have to be x-rayed at the airport. People may refuse, but if they do, they are required to go through a metal detector, plus be subject to a physical pat down.
That’s what I’ll be doing. Rejecting the x-ray and opting for the alternative.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist