Airport body scanners may be dangerous – and our government is ignoring that

Radiation_symbol_1 The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. The Committee has written a report that states that

Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation


Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning

Sadly, by making scanning compulsory for all and by failing to publicise this guidance, the British Government is failing to do both of these things and is potentially jeopardising the health of vulnerable people as a result.

By Alex Deane

Posted by on Feb 8, 2010 in Body Scanners | 8 Comments


  1. ThousandsOfMilesAway
    8th February 2010

    So they are basically x-ray machines?
    That is fucking outrageous if so.

  2. Steven
    8th February 2010

    But they dont really work anyway!!!

  3. Purlieu
    8th February 2010

    Yes they are x-ray machines, and how long before one of them goes haywire and fries some kid ?

  4. Purlieu
    8th February 2010

    Sorry forgot a bit …
    I couln’t help noticing that the operators “will be some distance away and etc etc” well if they are so safe let’s have the operators right up close and personal to them.

  5. redacted
    8th February 2010

    New frequent flyer bonus: Lukemia. Free extra doses if you look like “the suspicious type”.
    No smoking, it’s bad for you.

  6. 1984
    11th February 2010

    The airport body scanners not only invade privacy, but they DO invade the body. The evidence from the Rapiscan company makes this clear:
    Ionizing radiation does penetrate deep into the body- lool at the pictures on the Rapiscan Secure 1000 website- they even show up lung fields.
    Rapiscan also state perfectly clearly that the machines DO capture, store and transmit the images. Our Government and the airport authorities in the UK are LYING.

  7. Clive Page
    5th March 2010

    It is important to distinguish between ionising and non-ionising radiation. The X-ray backscatter scanners use, obviously, ionisiing radiation, producing a dose of up to 5 micro-sieverts a time. This is similar to the dose you get from a short flight, but means the overall effect is to double the risk of flying, assuming the risk of damage is linear with dose. The linearity of the effects of ionising radiation is still not definitively established and there are some grounds for thinking that low doses have smaller effects. Until the effects are better established, I think the use of X-rays in airport scanners is indefensible; others may have different opinions.
    The alternative scanners use terahertz waves, which are non-ionising. There is no reason in physics to think that these are harmful at all, but again it would be desirable to have the health effects of these scanners studied before they go into large-scale deployment.
    Most news reports don’t allow me to tell whether X-ray or teraherts scanners are in use – this is pretty dumb of the news media.

    18th April 2011

    Airport body scanners may be dangerous and our government is ignoring that.. Amazing :)