Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Want Cancer? Go to an Airport

Want cancer? Go to an airport, says John Whitehead.

Just when you started to think it might be safe to fly again…

Remember those whole-body, X-ray scanners the government installed in airports across the country and kept insisting were so safe? It turns out that they’re not so safe, after all. According to an investigative report by ProPublica/PBS NewsHour, anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines.

Many Americans initially objected to the invasive nature of the scans, which have been likened to "virtual strip searches" because of the degree to which intimate details of the body are revealed. Travelers also complained about being subjected to ogling and inappropriate remarks by airport officials. In response, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) attempted to alter the devices to make the X-ray images less graphic. Unfortunately, the TSA has done little to nothing about the concerns increasingly being raised about the risk of cancer from the scanners.

Yet as far back as 1998, radiation experts were warning against using X-ray scanners to peer beneath people’s clothing in the search for weapons and contraband, insisting that the machines violate a longstanding principle in radiation safety Read more

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