The Backlash Against Backscatter

July 31, 2012

31 Jul (The Alliance for Natural Health) – The airport x-ray machines are not safe. And for over a year, TSA has been defying a court order. A few months ago we told you about the dangers of airport full—body scanners—that they emit low levels of ionizing radiation and can cause cancer. The x-rays skim the entire surface of your skin instead of being directed to a localized area of your body, which means that radiation levels could be 10 to 20 times higher than the manufacturer’s calculations. The cancer threat has the European Union so concerned that it has put a moratorium on the machines.

Some doctors opt out of the backscatter scan and instead go for a full-body pat-down, intrusive as it is (more on that later). Among them is Dr. Dong Kim, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ neurosurgeon and chair of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School. “There is really no absolutely safe dose of radiation,” he says. “Each exposure is additive, and there is no need to incur any extra radiation when there is an alternative.” Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, never goes through a scanner when he travels because he’s concerned about whether the machines are calibrated and inspected properly.

That’s a valid concern, since a report released this year from the Department of Homeland Security found inconsistencies in how the machines are calibrated to ensure radiation safety and image quality, and says that not all TSA screeners have completed required radiation safety training. Inspectors found that the TSA made more than 3,500 maintenance calls in the first year the scanners were deployed, meaning that, on average, each machine needed service more than once a month. Millions of people go through these machines—and ProPublica reports that up to 100 US passengers could get cancer from them every year.

For more on this article go to The Alliance for Natural Health.

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