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TSA X-Ray Scanner
15 Feb

X-Ray Body Scanners Banned in Europe

Good news for anyone traveling in Europe. The European Union has prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners in all European airports. These are the same scanners that the TSA has installed in hundreds of US airports as a way of checking airline passengers for hidden explosives under their clothing.

X-Ray Scanner Image

The European Commission, which regularly enforces common policies of the EU’s 27 member countries, decided on the rule “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”

Reports are coming in that the X-ray body scanners that have been adopted by the US use ionizing radiation, a type of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and cause cancer. Even though the amount of radiation when being scanned is extremely low, equal to the same level of radiation one would experience in a few minutes of flying, there have been studies that have concluded that a small number of cancer cases would result from scanning hundreds of millions of people a year.

An alternative scanner is available for European airports that use radio frequency waves. Called millimeter-wave scanners, these have not been linked to cancer. The TSA uses both types of scanners in US airports currently

TSA has yet to respond to the EU’s ruling, however in a statement to the press, TSA spokesperson Mike McCarthy said, “As one of our many layers of security, TSA deploys the most advanced technology available to provide the best opportunity to detect dangerous items, such as explosives. We rigorously test our technology to ensure it meets our high detection and safety standards before it is placed in airports. Since January 2010, advanced imaging technology has detected more than 300 dangerous or illegal items on passengers in U.S. airports nationwide.”

The biggest controversial issue in the US has been focused on the privacy concerns regarding the body scanner machines, because they can produce graphic nude images. However, the manufactures have since installed privacy filters.

Currently in the US the TSA uses around 500 body scanners, split evenly between x-ray scanners or backscatter, which looks like two large blue boxes, and the millimeter-wave scanner, which looks like a big glass booth. However, within 3 years the TSA has plans to deploy over 1,800 backscatter and millimeter-wave scanners, which will cover nearly every domestic airport security lane.

Be mindful of this information the next time you travel as you will surely come in contact with a few if not all of these machines.

About The Author:  Duke Dudley is a travel writer from Portland, Maine. He recommends 1-800-Fly-Europe for your future flights to London.

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