EU Bans Airport X-Ray Machines, No Signs Show US Will Follow.

800px backscatter largeYou’re probably aware of the radiation risks associate with backscatter X-ray machines, the machines your friendly TSA agent uses to peep your naked body when you fly. Perhaps you’ve “opted out” from going through the machine and received weird looks from your TSA agent and been called paranoid. Maybe you were forced to stand there for 30 minutes while you waited for that mysterious gloved stranger to come pat down your genitals as fellow passengers walked by giving you suspicious looks. Well, if you live in the EU, you don’t have to worry anymore, because they have been universally banned. Why? Because of cancer risks of course.

Mother Jones reported, citing the EU official statement:

In order not to risk jeopardising citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports.

This new law is based on reports from concerned scientists who state that even these low levels of radiation cause cancer risks. They further added that the TSA’s testing methods are flawed because the testing is not done on the skin, which receives the most backscatter x-rays.

Important to note is that EU airports can still use millimeter wave scanners, which use radio frequency waves that are not linked to cancer. Pro Publica reports that 500 body scanners are currently being used in the US. About half of these are X-ray scanners which look like a pair of large blue boxes. The millimeter wave scanners look like a round glass phone booth.

What are the chances that the US will take similar precautions for the health of its citizens? I give it slim to none.

Earlier this month, TSA administrator John Pistole agreed during his Senate testimony to conducting independent evaluations on the machines. However, in a release of a draft report by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, Pistole apparently changed his position. “An inspector general report that is in draft form validates those prior studies, so that may suffice,” he stated.

[Mother Jones via Gizmodo]

About Matt Spaeth

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