Airport Scanners – European Commission Bans US Backscatter Scanners – Cancer Risks
We warned you months ago about new airport backscatter body scanners being forced on the American public. Now the European Commission has banned them at ALL European airports – though the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hopes you won’t pay attention. According to the Sun-Sentinel.
Europeans ban US body scanners.
The controversy over airport body scanners – and how safe they are – is taking on new urgency after European authorities this month banned the machines after studies linked them to a small number of cancer cases.
The same type of backscatter scanners, which emit low-level radiation, are used at dozens of U.S. airports, including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Orlando international airports.
Sari Koshetz, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the Nov. 14 decision by the European Commission, which affects all airports in Europe. But she maintains the scanners are safe, even for pregnant women and children.
“We rigorously test our technology to ensure it meets our high detection and safety standards before it is placed in airports,” she said.
Still, Steve Landes, director of the South Florida Airline Commuters Association, which has several hundred frequent flier members, said those who have to fly two to three times a week might want to avoid the scanner.
“Let’s put it this way, I would have to be a fool to say I wouldn’t have any concerns,” said Landes, of Boyton Beach.
The backscatter scanners use low-level radiation to detect dangerous items, notably explosives, on passengers. The TSA also uses a second type of scanner that relies on millimeter-wave technology, or radio waves, to search for dangerous items.
Those machines, which health authorities consider to be safer, have been installed at eight commercial airports in Florida, including those in Miami and Palm Beach.
Koshetz said the decision to install the radiation-emitting backscatter scanners in Fort Lauderdale in May 2010 was “complex” and involved numerous factors, including checkpoint configuration and the availability of those scanners at the time.
Helping to convince European authorities to impose the ban was a recent PBS Newshour/ProPublica report, which said: “Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines.” Scientific American also ran a story, detailing the results of the PBS/ProPublic investigation.
The report follows previous studies that had also concluded the scanners could trigger cancer cases among the tens of millions of passengers who pass through airports each year.
Only 300 dangerous or illegal items
With more than 250 backscatter scanners at 100 of the busiest U.S. airports, only 300 “dangerous or illegal” items have been identified since January 2010. The TSA doesn’t won’t tell us how many were actually dangerous. What were the costs in dollars and cancer risk per each dangerous item?