Navigation Links
New articles examine safety of airport security scanners

OAK BROOK, Ill. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun to use whole-body imaging scanners as a primary screening measure on travelers passing through airport security checkpoints. One type of scanner employs millimeter wave technology, which delivers no ionizing radiation. However, the second type of scanner currently deployed at airports uses backscatter X-rays that expose the individual being screened to very low levels of ionizing radiation. In the April issue of Radiology, two articles address the question of what potential long-term public health threats, if any, these backscatter X-ray systems pose.

In the first article, David J. Brenner, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y., proposes that from a public health policy perspective, given that up to one billion such scans per year are now possible in the U.S, we should have concerns about the long-term consequences of an extremely large number of people being exposed to a potential radiation-induced cancer risk, no matter how slight.

"The risks for any individual going through the X-ray backscatter scanners are exceedingly small," Dr. Brenner said. "However, if all air travelers are going to be screened this way, then we need to be concerned that some of these billion people may eventually develop cancer as a result of the radiation exposure from the X-ray scanners."

In the second article, David A. Schauer, Sc.D., C.H.P., executive director of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), argues that the summation of negligible average risks over large populations or time periods into a single value produces a distorted image of risk that is out of perspective with risks accepted every day, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

"There is no scientific basis to support the notion that a small risk to an individual changes in any way for that individual as others around him are also exposed to the same source of radiation," he said. "Critics of security screening acknowledge that doses from backscatter X-ray systems are very low and safe for an individual."

Dr. Schauer advocates strict regulatory control of the backscatter scanners in order to ensure that their use is consistent with the goals and objectives of radiation protection, which include justification (benefits exceed cost or harm), optimization (exposures are kept as low as reasonably achievable) and limitation (individual doses are limited).

"Any decision that alters the radiation exposure situation should do more good than harm," Dr. Schauer said. "In other words, people should only be exposed to ionizing radiation for security screening purposes when a threat exists that can be detected and for which appropriate actions can be taken. In addition, exposures must be justified and optimized."

Both Dr. Brenner and Dr. Schauer agree that the scanners using millimeter wave technology should be considered as a first option, since they are similar in cost and functionality to the backscatter machines, but do not expose the passenger to ionizing radiation. However, they also say that the average traveler should not be overly concerned about being screened with the backscatter scanners.

"As someone who travels just occasionally, I would have no hesitation in going through the X-ray backscatter scanner," Dr. Brenner said. "Super frequent fliers or airline personnel, who might go through the machine several hundred times each year, might wish to opt for pat-downs. The more scans you have, the more your risks may go upbut the individual risks are always going to be very, very small."

NCRP has recommended that backscatter X-ray systems adhere to an effective dose of 0.1 microsieverts (Sv) or less of ionizing radiation per scan, which roughly equates to the radiation exposure each passenger receives in under two minutes on the plane while flying at 30,000 feet. The average person in the U.S. receives an effective dose of about 3 millisieverts (3,000 Sv) per year from naturally occurring radioactive materials and cosmic radiation from outer space.


Contact: Linda Brooks
Radiological Society of North America

Related medicine news :

1. Pushing HIV out the door: How host factors aid in the release of HIV particles
2. Research provides new findings on drug delivery with nanoparticles
3. Nanoparticles increase survival after blood loss
4. Nanoparticles may enhance circulating tumor cell detection
5. New nanoparticles make blood clots visible
6. Special sugar, nanoparticles combine to detect cholera toxin
7. Delivering a potent cancer drug with nanoparticles can lessen side effects
8. Einstein-Montefiore researcher will test nanoparticles against pancreatic cancer
9. Cancer news articles may contribute to confusion about cancer
10. Small particles show big promise in beating unpleasant odors
11. Iron oxide nanoparticles becoming tools for brain tumor imaging and treatment
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Olympic Gold ... are collaborating with brands across various categories through traditional and social media marketing ... an elite group of Gold Medal Moms who can connect with today’s most ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... , ... The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) honors ... Circle. She is recognized with this prestigious distinction for leadership in estate sales and ... than 850,000 members and over 200 operating Local Chapters. , “I’m pleased to welcome ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Being a caregiver for someone ... Maryland Health Care System, the Caregiver Support Program promotes the health and wellbeing ... job. Seventy-four percent report that their role as a caregiver has created marital ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... According to research by the ... dental technicians to be certified or obtain continuing education. To increase awareness of ... Your Mouth?” campaign to inform dentists that the technicians they trust could lack ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... The Museum ... summer, ushering in a new era of publicly accessible automated technology. Now, by ... continue to offer guests an up-close look at the shuttle at MOSI’s main ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX ) today announced it will ... access to a low-cost alternative to Daraprim (pyrimethamine) , ... recently priced out of reach for people with HIV, pregnant ... --> --> Imprimis is offering a compounded ... acid) for $1 per capsule for people whose pharmacy benefit is ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... SINGAPORE , Nov. 30, 2015  QT Vascular ... Vascular", and together with its subsidiaries, TriReme Medical LLC ... global company engaged in the design, assembly and distribution ... of vascular disease, is pleased to announce that a ... Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("Federal ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015   Royal ... announced the launch of Radiology Solutions, a fully ... Radiology Solutions comprises customized, data-driven practice management approaches ... to help radiology practices improve care delivery and ... 2015 Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: