NEW YORK (CBS 2/ 1010 WINS/ WCBS 880) — Body scanners are finally here.
The new cutting edge body scanning technology was deployed for the first time Friday in the New York area.
Passengers at John F. Kennedy Airport got up close and personal with the advanced imaging technology.
But as CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, some question the safety and the health risks.
Is X-ray becoming x-rated at Kennedy Airport?
The new passenger body scanning machines are raising some privacy concerns. X-rays see through clothes, visible in a naked outline — front and back — to security agents in isolated rooms.
“It looks more like a chalk etching than it does an actual photograph,” said Lee Kair of TSA operations. “You can see on the left hand side of body, looks like a visual anomaly — actually a cell phone.”
“The ever evolving threat and therefore the ever evolving techniques we must use to keep aviation safe,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano arrived from Washington touting the safety and necessity of the new high-tech systems being slowly installed nationwide in all 450 commercial airports.
Passenger Denise Danz said she’s backing the scanner because they give her “peace of mind.”
The images are to be deleted shortly after a passenger passes through. The scanning will take about 20 seconds.
“If it does elongate the lines anymore than they are … they are already inflated as it is,” passenger Justin South said.
Passengers will be selected randomly to go through the body scanners. Those who refuse will get a pat-down.
But there is criticism. Can the machines be defeated by a terrorist hiding explosives internally? And what about the health risks?
“I’d prefer not to have that much radiation exposure I think,” passenger Bob Ligon said.
“I don’t like the radiation exposure either,” added Claudia Delman.
The scanners use either “millimeter wave technology” — radio waves –or — “backscatter machines” that use small doses of X-ray radiation. The Food & Drug Administration said it tested both and found safe, barely miniscule levels.
Some argue repeated low-dose exposure to radiation at airport checkpoints is a cumulative risk and safety has not yet been adequately demonstrated by impartial research.