TSA Backscatter X-rays: A Cause for Concern?

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Concern is on the rise about radiation exposure from the HYPERLINK “http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40194439/ns/travel-news/”X-ray full-body scanners being deployed at airports nationwide.  In an effort to thwart terrorist attacks, TSA and experts Department of Homeland Security are claiming that  “exposure to radiation is minimal”, reporting that  “a person receives more radiation from naturally occurring sources in less than an hour of ordinary living than from one screening with any general-use X-ray security system”.

Unfortunately for the average traveler, many critics beg to differ. Interested parties—ranging from pilots and passengers to esteemed scientists—are worried that radiation exposure from the X-rays could increase risk of cancers. Rush Holt, a physicist and the Chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, claims “machines might be carcinogenic”, and similarly, Dr. David Brenner of Columbia University, states that X-ray scanners deliver “20 times the average dose [of radiation] that is typically quoted by TSA and throughout the industry” and that this amount of “exposure can act as a cancer rate multiplier”. Critics who’ve been “lambasting” X-ray scanners for years are also noting that this technology is virtually “useless for detecting explosives.” Are the potential health risks worth the cost of our “safety”?

Title: They May Not Work, But They Do Cause Cancer: Invasion of the Body Scanners
Publication: November 24, 2010
Author:  James Ridgeway
URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/11/24-9

Expert Evaluator: Dr. Thaddeus Norman, Jr., Ph.D Biochemist–SRI International
Student Researcher: Rebecca Wilson