The world’s largest association of pilots has announced a boycott of full body scanners at airports, citing health risks.
The stance is taken following the suspension of an American pilot for refusing to be scanned, and the emergence of news that scanners may deliver 20 times more radiation than was announced by the authorities who introduced them.
The Allied Pilots Association recommends that members take a “pat down” search rather than expose themselves to the increased radiation from scanners.
Quite right too. As regular readers will know, Big Brother Watch has opposed body scanners since they were introduced, and pilots and cabin crews have been joining our campaign by the dozen ever since. Scanners are dangerous. There’s a reason that the nurse stands behind a screen when you get an x-ray at hospital. Radiation is potentially harmful, even in small doses, and the regularity with which frequent flyers are exposed to potentially cancer-causing radiation.
(All of this, of course, in quite apart from the significant privacy intrusion of body scanners, which have been abused by workers since they were introduced.)
If pilots aren’t going to be scanned, why should members of the public? This stance from a professional group, the world’s leading association of pilots, must shake the government out of its absurd position on scanners. In the UK alone you cannot opt for a pat-down search instead of a scan.
The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety (which includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization) has written a report that states that
1) Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings,
2) governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation
3) Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning
By making scanning compulsory for all and by failing to publicise this guidance, the British Government is failing to do all of these things and is potentially jeopardising the health of vulnerable people as a result. The APA’s stance will hopefully wake our government to that fact.
By Alex Deane
Big Brother Watch maintains a rolling list of airports with scanners