Cancer Risks of Full-Body Scanners Still Questioned
Full-body airport scanners are now standard at many airports, but critics are still questioning whether the low-dose radiation they emit poses a significant cancer risk. The machines use low-level beams to create an image of the body, revealing weapons and other concealed items beneath a passengerâ€™s clothing.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy-rights organization, has accused the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that oversees the Transportation Security Administration, of concealing risks related to the use and operation of backscatter scanners. Among the groupâ€™s claims are that the scanners may be causing â€œcancer clustersâ€ among security screeners and that the TSA has mischaracterized the type of testing the machines have undergone.
The organization is making these accusations based on documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. TSA disputes the charges brought against them as a result of those documents, calling the allegations false. EPIC has also sued the government to prevent all use of body scanners, which the group calls â€œinvasiveâ€ and â€œineffective.â€
Some of the groupâ€™s concerns are based on the fact that the intensity of the backscatter X-ray beam has not been publicly released.