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Airport full-body scanners expose passengers to less harmful radiation than most flights, experts say

Date:
January 8, 2010
Source:
American College of Radiology / American Roentgen Ray Society
Summary:
Amid concerns regarding terrorists targeting airliners using weapons less detectable by traditional means, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is ramping up deployment of whole body scanners at security checkpoints in US airports. These systems produce anatomically accurate images of the body and can detect objects and substances concealed by clothing.

Amid concerns regarding terrorists targeting airliners using weapons less detectable by traditional means, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is ramping up deployment of whole body scanners at security checkpoints in U.S. airports. These systems produce anatomically accurate images of the body and can detect objects and substances concealed by clothing.

To date, TSA has deployed two types of scanning systems:

  1. Millimeter wave technology uses low-level radio waves in the millimeter wave spectrum. Two rotating antennae cover the passenger from head to toe with low-level RF energy.
  2. Backscatter technology uses extremely weak X-rays delivering less than 10 microRem of radiation per scan ─ the radiation equivalent one receives inside an aircraft flying for two minutes at 30,000 feet.

An airline passenger flying cross-country is exposed to more radiation from the flight than from screening by one of these devices. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP) has reported that a traveler would need to experience 2,500 backscatter scans per year to reach what they classify as a Negligible Individual Dose. The American College of Radiology (ACR) agrees with this conclusion.

The ACR is not aware of any evidence that either of the scanning technologies that the TSA is considering would present significant biological effects for passengers screened.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Radiology / American Roentgen Ray Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American College of Radiology / American Roentgen Ray Society. "Airport full-body scanners expose passengers to less harmful radiation than most flights, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100106193436.htm>.
American College of Radiology / American Roentgen Ray Society. (2010, January 8). Airport full-body scanners expose passengers to less harmful radiation than most flights, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100106193436.htm
American College of Radiology / American Roentgen Ray Society. "Airport full-body scanners expose passengers to less harmful radiation than most flights, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100106193436.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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