Radiation from Full-Body Airport Scans "Trivial"

A report from the Archives of Internal Medicine has determined that any risks of exposure to radiation from the new full-body airport scans are trivial.

A new report on the potential risks of the full-body airport scans was published Monday by the Archives of Internal Medicine. The report comes to the conclusion that there is “no significant threat of radiation from the scans.”

In fact, the report, written by Pratik Mehta and Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, goes on to say that the amount of radiation emitted from the backscatter X-ray scanners is equivalent to 3 to 9 minutes of the radiation we receive through normal daily living.

In fact, passengers are exposed to more radiation on the flight itself because of the greater proximity to the sun. The scan’s radiation accounts for less than 1% of the radiation a passenger would be exposed to on an entire flight.

“An individual would have to undergo more than 50 airport scans to equal the exposure of a single dental radiograph,” according to the report, and “… 4,000 airport scans to equal the exposure of a mammogram.”

T

he report attempts to estimate the risks, although there is no exact calculation. For every 1 million frequent fliers taking 10 trips per week for a year, an additional 4 cancers could occur as a result of the scans. However, among those same 1 million fliers, 600 cancers could occur from the flight and 400,000 cancers could occur over in that 1 million individuals over their lifetimes.

According to Mehta and Smith-Bindman, the “risks are truly trivial,” especially when taking into account the balancing benefit of improved national security and safety.