Airport scanners emit less radiation than thought

Last Updated: Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 15:38

Washington: A new US report shows that people absorb less radiation from airport body scanners than they do while standing in line waiting for the scan itself.

The report, commissioned by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and performed by independent experts, examined two scanners at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and seven other scanners that were not in use.

It was found that full-body scanners deliver a radiation dose equivalent to what a standard man receives every 1.8 minutes on the ground, or every 12 seconds during an airplane flight.

Put another way, an individual would have to receive more than 22,500 scans in a year to reach the standard maximum safe yearly dose determined by the American National Standards Institute and the Health Physics Society, according to the report.

"This report represents a wholly independent review of the X-ray scatter airport scanners and is the first we know of to look at multiple scanners including those in actual airport use," said Christopher Cagnon, PhD, DABR, the chief of radiology physics at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and one of the lead authors of the new report.

"We think the most important single take-away point for concerned passengers is to keep an appropriate perspective: the effective radiation dose received by a passenger during screening is comparable to what that same passenger will receive in 12 seconds during the flight itself or from two minutes of natural radiation exposure," he added.


First Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 15:38

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