Airport Scanners, Are Radiation Levels Safe? Many Are Still Concerned About Risks.
It is true that while the media spotlight has been turned off regarding articles about the backscatter devices at airports, there are still individuals who elect a body search rather than lift their arms up while they are being full body scanned front and back by the machines which are supposedly safe, but about which there have been no long term studies. I am one of those individuals, and before flights to visit family in Florida, I have been joined by others who have refused to go through the scanning machines in favor of pat-downs.
Even before her pregnancy, Yolanda Marin-Czachor, a 34-year-old mother and teacher from Wisconsin, tried to avoid the scanning machines. “I had two miscarriages before this pregnancy, and one of the first things my doctor said was: ‘Do not go through one of those machines. There have not been any long-term studies. I would prefer you stay away from it.’ ”
The 244 scanners in 36 airports operating almost nonstop use radiation to gauge whether or not a passenger has secreted away a weapon on his or her person. Other airports use millimeter wave scanners, which look like glass telephone booths and do not use radiation, or metal detectors according to the Transportation Safety Administration.
According to experts, there is no problem with such X-ray backscatter machines because they are functioning properly and they expose passengers to extremely low doses of ionizing radiation. On the other hand, the low radiation dosage is predicated on proper function. What happens if mistakes by handlers or machine malfunctioning occurs? Can we rely on the T.S.A. to report such problems to their superiors? Or will they just sweep them under the rug as has occurred in hospitals when patients have been overdosed with excessive radiation, only to suffer from ill effects later?
Of course, when the news broke about overdosing from hospital radiation machines, there was a concern about imaging used for CT scans, MRIs and other tests. Unfortunately, the concern that peaked with the news reports has fallen off and there has not been a decrease in the frequency of patients undergoing such tests. In fact it has been quite the opposite.
It is known that excessive radiation exposure creates adverse side effects, impacting individuals' health. And the correlation between radiation and cancer has been established for years and has been reaffirmed with the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. So it is logical to ask to what extent will frequent flyers going through the backscatter machines be further jeopardizing their health when they find it necessary to have CT scans or MRIs, only to discover that overworked airport backscatter machines may have malfunctioned, emitting larger than anticipated radiation dosages?Continued on the next page