How Much Radiation Or Radio Wave Exposure From Airport Body Scan?

7:39 PM, Dec 30, 2009   |    comments
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ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) -- The Transportation Safety Administration says more body image scanners will be placed at airports across the country in the future. They announce this as they try to balance privacy and health concerns.

9NEWS NOW did some digging and found out exactly what types of privacy measures have been taken with the scanners and what radio-waves and x-ray exposures really amount to.

The TSA says two types of machines will be used. One is a millimeter wave that exposes you to radio waves. Officials say it's no more than talking on your cell phone. This machine also blurs out people's faces when scanned.

The other machine is a back scatter which is a type of x-ray machine that emits traces of radiation. The maker of this machines says it emits 3 microRems. To give you an idea of this measurement, a dental x-ray is 1000 microRems. A chest x-ray is 6000 microRems. This machine also has a body filter for privacy concerns.

Svetlana Kaharlamova is a frequent flyer who worries about repeated radiation exposure.

TSA says one body scan is equivalent to spending 5 minutes in the sun or two minutes in flight or talking on your cell phone.
They say these are small doses even for frequent flyers.

According to the American Nuclear Society an average yearly dosage of radiation a person gets is 360, 000 microRems.

The body image scanners only see down to the surface of your skin to show anything suspicious including explosive chemicals.

But with only 4 body scanners in use now at BWI, 1 at Reagan National and none at Dulles International some question the effectiveness with only a handful of machines in use.

There are 40 machines in place across the country at around 150 thousand dollars a piece. 150 have been purchased and the TSA has funding to purchase 300 more units.

Written by Surae Chinn

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