How Much Radiation?

TSA testing radiation exposure from full body scanners

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Being exposed to any type or level of radiation isn't a particularly healthy thing. That's why the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing the radiation levels of full-body scanners. But not out of concern for the flying public.

TSA will be testing full-body scanners at 100 airports throughout the United States to see if security personnel are being zapped with too much radiation.

As for the public? No worries - the agency claims the machines are safe for all ages.

"Concerned about radiation exposure? Request a manual airport screening."

This news wasn't forthcoming from the agency. Instead, the information was leaked when the TSA asked government vendors to provide quotes on dosimeters, wearable devices that measure radiation exposure.

"We continuously test our technology to ensure it is safe for both passengers and our officers and post all results to our website," Nico Melendez, a TSA spokesman, said in a Los Angeles Times article.

Yet some groups say independent testing of full-body scanners haven't been conducted to assess radiation exposure to airline passengers, despite repeated requests.

In the same article, James Babb, co-founder of We Won't Fly, a consumer advocacy group, asserted, "We still have no idea how much radiation is being imposed on travelers by a properly functioning machine. A malfunctioning machine could be particularly nasty," Babb said.

Melendez says the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Army Public Health Command have tested and approved the safety of these X-ray machines.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said in November that the Homeland Security Department Inspector General had confirmed the results of previous independent studies which concluded that the machines are safe.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 16, 2012
Last Updated:
January 17, 2012