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Airport full-body scanners possible health risks

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The new generation of airport body scanners are capable of detecting non-metal objects. These machines are massively introduced at airports all around the world. However, concerns about their negative influence on the human body are getting stronger.

Possible source of tissue cancer

Following the terrorist's at­tempts to smuggle explosives on board commercial aircraft carrying them inside their bodies a new scanner has been developed. In order to do it's job, the machine emits a small dose of X-ray radiation. The amount is substantially smaller compared to a regular X-ray at a doctor's office. Still, there are scientists claiming that the effects of these scanners on human body are not yet thoroughly examined.

The main concern is about the overuse of these machines. The dose of carcinogenic radiation is very small in one scan. But as people travel by planes more and more often, the individual doses will add up. Current reports indicate that more than 100 doses a year could be the turning point. According to National Council on Radiation Protection this is the „Negligible Individual Dose“.

Other scientist shared another concern. While the machine operates normally, the amount of radiation emitted is very low. But as with all machines, there is a possibility of malfunction. No one knows what would then happen. The machine could even start to produce higher amounts of X-ray.

What is the probability?

Peter Rez, Arizona State University physics professor, has made a research of his own. He states that the actual amount of radiation emitted by these machines is higher than the authorities claim. Still, he calculated the probability of dying from a body scanner radiation to one in 30 million. That is roughly the same as the probability of being killed in a terrorist attack. To compare, the probability of being killed by a strike of lightning is ten times higher in the US.

Source: CNN article


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