Navigation Links
Not Even Experts Agree on Safety of Airport Scanners
Date:3/17/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term health dangers from the type of airport body scanners that emit radiation are tiny, experts say, but disagreement lingers over the collective cancer risks because of the sheer mass of travelers who pass through them every year.

In a pair of competing articles in the April issue of Radiology, radiation experts David J. Brenner and David A. Schauer debate the benefits and potential hazards posed by backscatter X-ray scanners, which are used to screen up to a billion travelers annually at airport security checkpoints in the United States.

Another type of scanner, which uses millimeter wave technology, does not emit ionizing radiation and has no proven health effects, which Brenner and Schauer agree is the ideal. But U.S. airports use a mix of both scanner types, with the only alternative being the controversial full-body pat-down.

The makers of the backscatter scanners, Rapiscan Systems, have said that the devices emit a dose of radiation equivalent to 1/1000 of a dental X-ray.

"The individual risks are obviously extremely small," said Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University in New York City. "A good analogy ... is that it's like a lottery. You buy a ticket, and the chances of winning are minuscule -- but that doesn't mean no one will win the lottery."

"So we won't know who it is who gets these radiation-induced cancers," he added, "but it's going to be someone."

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration started using advanced imaging technology as an extra security precaution in 2007, expanding it to a primary measure in early 2010 after the unsuccessful attempt by a passenger to blow up a plane with explosive powder.

Schauer, executive director of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, contends that adding up trivial risks over large populations or time periods produces a distorted image of risk. In many cases, he noted in his paper, the collective dose increases with the number of people exposed, but the benefits and risks to each person remain constant.

"The risk of health effects from backscatter X-ray systems ... is very small as long as their use is justified, optimized and complies with applicable dose limits," Schauer said. "When these fundamental radiation protection objectives are achieved, the benefit of exposing people to X-rays exceeds any risk."

Radiation doses from backscatter scanners are orders of magnitude smaller than the doses sustained from the 3.6 billion medical scans done each year worldwide that use radiation for diagnostic purposes, Schauer said.

But Brenner noted that scientists have not been able to independently measure radiation doses from backscatter scanners because they have not been granted access to the machines to verify the manufacturer's stated doses.

Peter Rez, a professor of physics at Arizona State University in Tempe, said he thinks both Brenner and Schauer make valid points in their articles.

"It's not as if they're at opposite ends of the spectrum," Rez said. "The risks from a body scanner are equal to or greater than the risks of what you're trying to prevent -- terrorism -- and both risks are very small."

Brenner said he would not hesitate to go through a backscatter scanner on an occasional basis, but he would avoid the process if he were a frequent flyer or an airline employee, who might have to pass through the system several hundred times a year.

But all things considered, he said, he'd rather be screened with the no-radiation millimeter wave scanners, whose cost and effectiveness are similar.

"To me, it's a no-brainer to use a technology with no X-rays," Brenner said. "If you can use millimeter wave scanners ... you surely should."

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more on the health effects of radiation exposure.

SOURCES: David Brenner, Ph.D., D.Sc., director, Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; David A. Schauer, Sc.D., executive director, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Bethesda, Md.; Peter Rez, Ph.D., professor, physics, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.; April 2011, Radiology


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Local Carrollton Center Hosting More than 50 Autism Experts from Coast-to-Coast
2. Experts call for acceleration of research and interventions for prematurity and stillbirth
3. Verizon Health Care IT Experts to Present at Atlanta Conference on March 2, 3
4. FDA Appoints Highly Qualified Scientific Experts to Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee
5. Experts call for further research into the relationship between insulin therapy and cancer
6. Experts support new federal center for Medicare and Medicaid innovation
7. David Wolfe Hosts 3-Day Longevity Conference: Top Wellness Experts Reveal Tomorrow's Best Natural Health and Nutrition Information Today
8. Alert: Bloomberg to Gather Healthcare Experts in Chicago, April 27th
9. Bipartisan Capitol Hill Media Event: Health Experts, Lawmakers to Urge Federal Government to Fix the Funding Failure for Chronic Viral Hepatitis
10. Two Top Sleep Experts Team Up On New Pillow Collection
11. Experts Say Its Not So Bad to Go a Little Mad
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Not Even Experts Agree on Safety of Airport Scanners
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... actively feeding the Frederick area economy by obtaining investment capital for emerging technology ... past 2½ years that have already resulted in more than a million dollars ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Today, ... stem (iPS) cells and other difficult to transfect cells, announces its launch of ... PluriQ™ G9™ Gene Editing System is a complete system for culturing and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... To succeed under value-based payments, healthcare providers ... how to move forward, given the need to sustain current operations. PYA has ... an organization’s specific needs. , PYA Principal Martie Ross states, “Healthcare providers want ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats, located in Arizona has re-located to ... vortex sites: Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon. The new retreat center ... as well as the Sedona Rouge, both popular accommodations for SpiritQuest clients. The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... An article published June 8 ... between head and neck cancer in individuals with unhealthy oral hygiene habits. The article ... on whether they had gum disease, brushed their teeth on a daily basis, wore ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- According to a new market research ... Safety Pen Needles), Needle Length (4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, ... Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) - Trends & Global Forecasts to ... for the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. This ... 2021 from USD 1.65 Billion in 2016, growing at ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , Belgium , June 24, ... VNRX), today announced the appointment of Dr. ... Directors as a Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, ... Audit, Compensation and Nominations and Governance Committees.  As ... Futcher will provide independent expertise and strategic counsel ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016  MedSource announced today that it has ... solution of choice.  This latest decision demonstrates MedSource,s ... their clients by offering a state-of-the-art electronic data ... nowEDC as the EDC platform of choice in ... "nowEDC has long been a preferred EDC platform ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: