New Study Raises Concerns Over Full Body Scanners At Airports

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The busy holiday season is about to take off.

A new study is raising concerns about the health risks of full body X-ray scanners as some 23 million people are expected to take to airports across the country next week for Thanksgiving.

When many pass through the scanners their main thought might be exactly what the TSA employees on the other end are seeing. However, CBS 2’s Kristin Thorne looked into whether you should be worried about exposure to radiation.

Earlier this week, the European Union banned the X-ray units in airports in 27 countries because a new study suggests the machines could cause cancer.

“I’m not confident that’s true,” flier Anglia Johnson said. “I travel weekly and I don’t have a problem with it.”

The Transportation Security Administration is reassuring passengers that the machines known as backscatter units are perfectly safe.

According to a statement on the TSA website, “Backscatter imaging technology units are required to comply with the national standard and the machines are designed to be physically incapable of producing the amount of energy needed to emit radiation above the standard in a single screening.”

“You’re at higher risk driving to the airport by a long shot than any risks you may have of cancer or even death from that particular machine,” Dr. Peter Faulhaber, of University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said.

“People say that Wi-Fi and cell phones give off radiation that’s going to cause cancer 30 years down the road and we’re not going to stop using cell phones,” Greg O’Neill, of Lynbrook, said. “I’m always on my Blackberry.”

Backscatter units are used at LaGuardia  and Kennedy airports. Newark-Liberty Airport uses a completely different machine called a millimeter wave machine which is considered to be a safer technology.

“They don’t do x-rays every year because they feel its unsafe, so having x-rays of your whole body especially if you’re a frequent flyer is leading to a potential hazard,” Kitty Rodriguez, of Stamford, said.

Fliers can opt out of going through the scanners but will have to get a full-body pat down.

Some U.S. lawmakers are calling for an independent study to determine the possible cancer risks of the scanners.

 What do you think? Sound off below…

  • Amanda

    When I flew in April through Newark, I was told I had no choice but to go through the scanner, even though I asked for a pat down and told them I was pregnant. Fast forward 7 months, and one of my twins was born with serious birth defects. Hmm….

  • stopthetsa

    21 reasons scientists oppose body scanners

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

    • RealFreedom

      Seen any real terrorist attacks by them sincs – lets say – 2001? I haven’t. Shouldn’t you or many others be dead by now if that was true?

      You watch too much of the government propaganda about terrorism on tv. You also confuse muslims with terrorists. Inform yourself and you may get a whole different perspective on reality. Better become aware of the police state rapidly closing in on you, as that is what in fact is really happening. They use fake terrorism fairytales to implement it. Something you and everyone else should really worry about.

  • rr

    Let’s listen to what the TSA , a government agency tells us. When has the US government ever misled us? Yeah sure.

  • Larry Schwarz

    What they can see does not bother me,The risk from The Radiation does.The Europeans have banned it for a reason.There are other alternatives.Computers that can detect anything and tell the difference between a key and a weapon.How nice it would be to go through without getting undressed.Another thing is bomb sniffing dogs.After you pass the metal detector you get a sniff.If someone is allergic to dogs and they provide a doctors note they can have a pat down instead.

  • RealFreedom

    What study? By who? The TSA? DHS? Where are the facts behind your story?

    Ofcourse the TSA will tell you everything is just fine. Some lady called Anglia will tell you everything is fine. She has no problems (yet). You have a higher risk driving to the airport then having cancer in 10 years? What kind of reporting is that?

    The EU is going to replace the X-ray backscatter machines with the millimeter wave ones after protests. X-ray machines already have proven to cause cancer. It’s why radiologists run out the room if they x-ray you in hospitals. The millimeter wave machines are so new and nothing is known about the effects over a long period of time yet. So just use it and we’ll see what happens later? They called them Millimeter Wave because calling them Micro Waves would probably cause a panic. Basically they are the same principle. So if they tell you to stick your head into the Microwave, you just do that?

    Opt-out people. Show them you are sick and tired of the TSA (DHS) harrassment. Opt-out for your own personal safety. You have the right to do so. All this has nothing to do with terrorism, like they so want you to believe. Israel is the country with the most enemies on this planet. They don’t have them anywhere. No terrorist attacks either.

  • Steve Scanner

    Meanwhile, Americans who travel from one part of America to another by plane are subjected to degrading pat downs and electronic surveillance that by no means has been proven medically safe.

    Because some bad men attacked us ten years ago, we created a nanny security state in which poorly trained bottom rung employees of a vast security apparatus are given god-like powers over those poor schlubs who find themselves in need of a plane ride.

    Nothing degrades this nation more than the cowardly ways in which we responded to a one-day flurry of terror. Out of fear of terrorism, we opened the doors wide to fascism, and I for one have not boarded an airplane since.

    Jesse Ventura may not be right about a lot of things, but he’s exactly right about this systemic usurpation of our rights in the name of nanny state security measures. DHS is nothing more than a conduit through which Congress shovels money to security contractors and the military-industrial complex.

    “Just as supposedly every passenger is at some risk of terrorist attack, if every passenger were also subject to a backscatter screening, then the actual risk of deaths by cancer means the machines are “deadlier than the terrorists.” (-Bruce Schneier)

    • RealFreedom

      Well said.

      The Policestate is here aleady. TSA, DHS with “if you see something, say something”, Borderpatrol stations 100 miles away from the border. Cameras watching you everywhere. Fema camps everywhere. The Patriot Act. Caught in a 15 Trillion dollar debt. All this is pure fascism.

      The government sees you as the terrorists and does everything to keep you in line. From your taxdollars also that is. You are paying for your own imprisonement (as in loosing your freedoms).

      When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
      When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.
      Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

  • Eric

    Um, so where are the details on this new study?

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