Full-body scanners pose ‘negligible’ risk

4th Apr 2011
Full-body scanners pose ‘negligible’ risk

Airline passengers face more risk from cosmic rays during a flight than from airport scanners according to the latest scientific research.

In total newly developed full-body scanners account for less than one per cent of the radiation passengers are exposed to during a flight.

The risk is “negligible” according to American scientists Dr Patrick Mehta and Dr Rebecca Smith-Bindman.

Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine the experts in public health and radiology, based at the University of California, argue the most frequent flyers who clock up 60 hours a week in the air will face only a minute increase in cancer risk.

In comparison, 600 cancers could occur in these travellers from the radiation received during the flight itself and 400,000 cancers would be expected to occur throughout their lifetime anyway, regardless of their travel exposure.

There are also upsides for scanners.

Checks on passengers can now take as little as 30 seconds, rather than over two minutes per person with a physical search.

Passengers also do not have to be touched to be checked as part of the patting down process.


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