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Airport body scanners safe

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By Jimmy Downs

To boost airport security, the Transportation Security Administration or TSA is speeding up its deployment of whole body scanners at security checkpoints in the U.S. airports.

There are two types of airport body scanners. One is based on backscatter technology using x-ray, which is a known human cancer causing agent and the other based on millimeter wave technology which is considered safe.

The TSA says that both scanners are safe.  To comfort future passengers, American College of Radiology and American Roentgen Raw Society issued a statement today saying that the radiation from one scan of the backscatter gives the passenger a dose of radiation that is equivalent to two minutes of flying at 30,000 feet.

X-ray, a type of ionizing radiation, is recognized as a cancer-causing agent by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. It can also raise risk of cardiovascular disease.  According to Dr. John Gofman, a distinguished nuclear physicist and physician, there is not safe threshold for the radiation.

ACR and ARRS say the dose of x-ray for the backscatter is extremely lower delivering only less than 10 microRem of radiation per scan.

In comparison, one chest x-ray gives the patient 10,000 microREMs.

Media reports that TSA allows passengers to opt to get a pad-down search to avoid radiation from the airport body scanners.

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