General Health

Europe Bans Airport Scanners...

According to this article on the Time website, a few weeks ago the European Commission proposed to ban the so-called 'backscatter' X-ray machines. These scanners emit radiation and are seen as a risk to the health and safety of citizens through the EU's 27 member nations.

So what’s happening in the US? Well, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has gone and rolled out roughly 250 backscatter X-ray machines across the US. The TSA still maintain that these X-ray machines are safe and that any increase in cancer risk is negligible.

However, many scientists disagree...and so do we. These previous blog entries outline our opinions about this issue of airport scanners and radiation exposure.

To put things into perspective, although the risk of an individual developing cancer from scanner radiation is relatively low...the accrued risks over time by the millions of Americans who regularly fly every year most certainly puts these machines into a potential danger-zone that the public are exposed to at airports throughout the country.

Frequent fliers and pilots alike seem to be against the scanners. In fact, the pilots’ unions publicly recommend that passengers opt of the pat-down security check as opposed to the  X-ray machine. With recent news reports of some passengers reporting personal violations of their rights and other legal headaches for courts countrywide after these pat-downs, it seems that when it comes to national security, flight risks, health risks and passenger’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

Considering the majority of professional and decent TSA officials out there, getting a quick pat-down may be the lesser of the two ‘evils’ when heading through airport security. At least you and your fellow passengers can see what’s happening...unlike the potentially dangerous X-ray radiation that passes through your body every time you’re subjected to these backscatter scanners.

While this controversial topic gets bounced around the bureaucratic tennis courts of America’s political and legal sectors, passengers are still no better off and are still subjected to the risk of radiation exposure every time they fly.

You may not be able to choose your preferred method of travel but you can certainly choose which form of security check you’re entitled to. I understand that none of them are ideal and tick all the boxes, but in the great scheme of things, avoiding an X-ray scanner and its potential risks should be at the top of your agenda whenever you travel.


  • “Dean, in all likelihood you were exposed to far, far more ionising radiation if you lived up in or around Jo’burg. If you live on the east coast of the south island then the native soil is derived from greqywacke and has relatively high levels of radiation as do all granitic derived soils. By contrast though, to some US soils it is very low – they often have to "drain" radon gas from under their homes. It is important to keep the concept of radiation in perspective, though best not to get any more than absolutely necessary it does pay to keep in mind that everything we eat forces us to ingest some level of ionising radiation. The plants absorb it from the soil they grow in, in turn, we and the animals that eat those plants ingest that. Here is a link from the National Radiation Laboratory of the Ministry of Health – It is only when you glow in the dark you have to worry. By then it is too late of course. Remember to wear lead-soled shoes and under wear.”

    Murray December 08 2011

  • “The fact that the vast majority of air travellers do not opt out of the body scanner security checks tells me that most people will believe anything that they are told by government and non independant scientific agencies…..just as long as they can keep status quo…life as normal. The US government thinks that it is actually ok to x ray any of its citizens or ‘aliens’ under the premise of safety, security and most laughably……freedom! The whole thing smacks of nazi Germany on steroids and they’re certainly not done yet. The police state seems to be happening right under the noses of US citezins, most of whom seem to be asleep at the wheel. Perhaps that’s only to be expected when over 50% of them take prescription pharmaceuticals and ‘live’ on nutritionally deprived ‘food’. I think it’s a terrible state of affairs, what the American people have had done and are having done to them. I have travelled quite widely in the US before any of this nonsense reached an obvious crescendo and it is a beautiful country with a lot of great folk. I can’t think of a good enough reason to get back there any time soon though that makes braving the police state an attractive enough option….unfortunately.”

    Andrew Large December 09 2011

  • “Andrew Large u r a very smart man.. I have been preaching this to people for 40 years to deaf ears. Now they r starting to get it. LOL, when it is getting a little too late. Stupid , stupid people in this country.”

    Val December 12 2011

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