Scientists from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco have voiced their concerns that the full-body, graphic-image X-ray scanners that are being used to screen passengers and airline crews at airports around the country may be unsafe.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began rolling out full-body scanners at US airports in 2007, but stepped up deployment of the devices this year when stimulus funding made it possible to buy another 450 of the advanced imaging technology scanners.
“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.
Four UCSF scientists raised concerns about the “potential serious health risks” from the scanners in a letter sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology in April. Their primary concern is that most of the energy from the scanners is delivered to the skin and underlying tissue, which may make the dose to the skin dangerously high.
The Office of Science and Technology responded to the scientists’ letter, saying the scanners have been “tested extensively” by US government agencies and were found to meet safety standards. UCSF scientists say the officials response was “deeply flawed.”
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Student Researcher: Alyssa Andrews, Florida Atlantic University
Faculty Advisor: James Tracy, Florida Atlantic University