Agence France-Presse and Postmedia NewsNovember 12, 2010
scientists warned Friday that the full-body, graphic-image X-ray scanners that are being used to screen passengers at airports around that country may be unsafe, raising concerns for Canadians travelling south of the border. U.S.
: David McNew, Getty Images
"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays," said Dr. Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at
"No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner," he said.
The possible health dangers posed by the
Despite the concerns the warning raises for Canadians travelling through
According to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, full-body X-ray scanner technology used in the
While 36 full-body scanners are in use at 16 Canadian airports, spokesman Mathieu Larocque said they use "millimetre wave technology" which projects low-level radio frequency energy "over and around the passengers' bodies.
"The RF wave is reflected back from the body and from objects concealed on the body, producing a three-dimensional image," he said.
According to Health
"The electromagnetic non-ionizing radiation used in these scanners is based on millimetre wave technology and does not pose a risk to human health and safety, from either single or repeated exposures."
A regional airline pilot in the U.S. last month refused to go through one of the American scanners, calling it an "assault on my person" and a violation of his right to privacy.
The Transportation Security Administration began rolling out full-body scanners at
A group of scientists at the
Biochemist John Sedat and his colleagues said in the letter that most of the energy from the scanners is delivered to the skin and underlying tissue.
"While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high," they wrote.
The Office of Science and Technology responded this week to the scientists' letter, saying the scanners have been "tested extensively" by
But Sedat said Friday that the official response was "deeply flawed."
"We still don't know the beam intensity or other details of their classified system," he said, adding that university scientists were preparing a rebuttal to the White House statement.
Some 315 "naked" scanners are currently in use at 65
Despite the different technology used in this country, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has received about 30 complaints about the scanners, agency's spokesman said Friday. He wouldn't say what people were specifically upset about.
Critics of the machines have argued they are a violation of privacy and do little to increase security.
© Copyright (c) AFP
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs