18 May 2010

Scientists: New Airport Scanners Not Safe



Body scanner vision by francoiscuccu @ flickr


From Denny: As to the new privacy invasive airport scanners I've been having this nagging bad feeling for some time ever since they were installed in 23 airports. Besides the privacy issue, I just don't trust the science since no long term studies have been done on the machines' effects on large populations. Turns out neither do several eminent scientists trust this science: John Sedat, a molecular biologist and David Agard, a biochemist and biophysicist at the University of California, San Francisco and Marc Shuman, a cancer specialist and Robert Stroud, a biochemist and biophysicist.

"Ionizing radiation such as the X-rays used in these scanners have the potential to induce chromosome damage, and that can lead to cancer," Agard says.

What's of deep concern here is that about one in 20 people in the population, about 5%, are sensitive enough to radiation that it causes gene mutation and chromosome damage. There are no tests to let people know if they are part of that small group susceptible to damage and as a traveler you have no way of knowing if you are at risk. Scientists are worried about skin cancer, immune-system problems, breast cancer, mutations in sperm cells, and effects on a developing fetus.

Now, tell me, does this sound like a machine you would willingly step into now that you know this from a pack of concerned scientists? How will this affect the world population over the long term when about 700 million people are screened like this a year? Will it sterilize fertility, causing massive depopulation? Will it cause world wide cancers or other birth defects? What are the long term ramifications? No long term studies have been done on this airport scanner. Until then, perhaps it would be a better idea to step up the drug dog patrols. Bring in the hounds...


Scientists Question Safety Of New Airport Scanners (NPR)


... About half of these machines will be so-called X-ray back-scatter scanners. They use low-energy X-rays to peer beneath passengers' clothing. That has some scientists worried.

This San Francisco group thinks both the machine's manufacturer, Rapiscan, and government officials have miscalculated the dose that the X-ray scanners deliver to the skin — where nearly all the radiation is concentrated.

The stated dose — about .02 microsieverts, a medical unit of radiation — is averaged over the whole body, members of the UCSF group said in interviews. But they maintain that if the dose is calculated as what gets deposited in the skin, the number would be higher, though how much higher is unclear...

Click on the NPR news article title link for the full story.





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