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L.I. Congressman Calls For More Research Into Safety Of Airport X-Ray Scanners

Israel Cites Stats Revealing 3,778 Malfunctions, But Minimal Radiation Surveys
Man goes through a full-body scanner at the airport (file/Photo: Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

Man goes through a full-body scanner at the airport (file/Photo: Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island congressman is calling attention to the potential danger of radiation exposure at our nation’s airports.

Congressman Steve Israel has called on the Transportation Security Administration to launch an independent investigation on potential health risks from the full-body Backscatter X-ray scanners.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reports

“I have a high regard for the TSA, but I also know that when government says ‘trust us and we don’t have to open this up to more scrutiny,’ you should open it up to more scrutiny,” Rep. Israel told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

The congressman cited records over the past year in stating that there have been 3,778 mechanical malfunctions with the Backscatters, but radiation safety surveys were conducted in only 2 percent of the calls, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

“What happens if the scan pauses for a moment and concentrates on one specific area,” Rep. Israel said.

Israel said he doesn’t want to spread fear; he only wants answers to safety concerns about the radiation.

“We do have an obligation to make sure that our security is safe and that people know that it’s safe,” Rep. Israel told Xirinachs.

Passengers McLogan spoke with Tuesday seemed hesitant about the Backscatters, saying they would “prefer to avoid them,” and that they often feel like “lambs” forced to go through them and wondering “who monitors the amount of radiation that is coming through?”

Congressman Israel offered safety advice for some groups.

“Particularly if you’re a pregnant woman or if you have children, you need to know that you don’t have to go through the Backscatter. You can ask for some alternatives,” Rep. Israel told Xirinachs.

The congressman said there are nearly 250 of these full-body scanners at 37 airports nationwide.

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