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New Study Raises Concerns Over Full Body Scanners At Airports

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Advanced Imaging Technology unit at John F. Kennedy International Airport's Terminal 8.  (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Advanced Imaging Technology unit at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 8. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

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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…

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