Beyond the invasion of privacy problems caused by these x-ray-based airport security “porno scanners,” there are real health concerns. According to Dr. Michael Love, these scanners are going to give some people cancer. From Alternet.org:
“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.
“No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” he said.
The level of X-ray exposure from a single use of the machine is small, but if they are the primary screening technology at the airport, we are talking about millions of individuals exposed multiple times a year.
With the X-rays concentrated at the skin, it is statistically likely that some of these millions of people who travel through the machines will develop cancer. Individuals who are predisposed to cancer would be at increased risk.
It is a sad irony that in the TSA’s efforts to protect individuals from potential harm caused by terrorists, we are potentially going to give people cancer.
Since 9/11, we have had no Americans die as a result of weapons smuggled on to an airplane through an American airport using our previous screening system. The risk of dying that way is very small. Even if these backscatter x-ray scanners cause skin cancer in as few as one out of every 500,000 people, they still, in a safety cost-benefit analysis, do more harm to Americans than good.
Welcome to the warped world of security theater, where the treatment is even more dangerous to you than the disease.