Radiation Risk From Airport Full-Body Scanners Limited

Research finds radiation doses from scans are very small; pose trivial risk

TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Full-body scanners being deployed by the Transportation Security Administration in airports throughout the United States do not appear to increase risks related to radiation exposure, according to a special article published online March 28 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Pratik Mehta, of the University of California at Berkeley, and Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, evaluated the risks related to radiation from airport full-body scanners.

The investigators found that the radiation doses emitted by the scans were extremely small, with the scans delivering an amount of radiation equal to three to nine minutes of the radiation encountered during normal daily living. In addition, a scan contributed less than 1 percent of the dose a flyer receives from exposure to cosmic rays at elevated altitudes. Using available models, the investigators also found that risk of cancer tied to these scans was extremely small, even among frequent flyers.

"Based on what is known about the scanners, passengers should not fear going through the scans for health reasons, as the risks are truly trivial," the authors write. "If individuals feel vulnerable and are worried about the radiation emitted by the scans, they might reconsider flying altogether since most of the small, but real, radiation risk they will receive will come from the flight and not from the exceedingly small exposures from the scans."

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