Thursday, November 25, 2010
SAN DIEGO Airport body scans pose no health risk. That’s according to the Food and Drug Administration and the American College of Radiology. Experts say a traveler will get more radiation from a short flight than an airport body scan.
The art of “looking through things” has been perfected since the X-ray machine first revolutionized medicine 114 years ago.
Today, the extremely low-dose radiation used in airport body scan X-rays is so weak it cannot penetrate bone. It only goes through clothes and the first few layers of skin.
Doctor John Johnson is the lead physician for radiation risk reduction at Scripps Mercy Hospital. He says several reports over the past decade show radiation from a full-body airport scan is minuscule.
“The approximate radiation dose from an airport body scan is 1/1000th of a chest X-ray. That’s really, really low—it’s much lower than say a mammogram,” said Johnson.
That means it would take more than 1,000 airport body scans in a year to reach the same radiation dose of one standard chest X-ray.
The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP) has another way of explaining the low dose radiation from airport scanners, known as backscatter scans.
NCRP says an airline passenger flying at 30,000 feet for more than two minutes is exposed to more radiation from the cosmos than they’d get from one airport body scan.