Full-body airport scanners ‘just as likely to kill you as a terrorist’s bomb’

Friday, November 19, 2010

LONDON - A leading US scientist has warned that full-body airport scanners are just as likely to kill you as a terrorist’s bomb blowing your plane out of the sky.

Installed at all major airports across the world, these machines could be hazardous to passengers’ health as increased exposure to harmful radiation may cause cancer.

Peter Rez, from the Arizona State University, has claimed that the scanners are redundant because you are just as likely to contract cancer from the radiation, as you are to die in a terrorist bomb on your flight, reports the Daily Mail.

He said the probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that of being killed in a terror attack are both about one in 30 million.

“The thing that worries me the most, is not what happens if the machine works as advertised, but what happens if it doesn’t. A potential malfunction could increase the radiation dose,” Rez said.

He studied the radiation doses of backscatter scanners using the images produced by the machines. He discovered that the radiation dose was often higher than the manufacturers claimed.

He suggested that the statistical coincidence means that there is really no case to be made for deploying any kind of body-scanning machine - the risk is identical.

“They’re both incredibly unlikely events. These are still a factor of 10 lower than the probability of dying in any one year from being struck by lightning in the United States,” Rez added.

Critics say the low-level beam used delivers a small dose of radiation to the body but because the beam concentrates on the skin - one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body - that dose may be up to 20 times higher than first estimated.

The controversial technology creates a full-body image which is fed to a computer in a private room. It picks up all natural curves and bumps as well any potential weapons, which may normally be missed by the traditional pat down.

However, government agencies insist that the technology is safe and say their tests show it would take 5,000 trips through the scanner to equal the dose of a single chest X-ray. (ANI)

Filed under: Cancer

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