The Safety Question Regarding Backscatter Scanning

Even if you’re not opposed to these machines on privacy grounds, the health risks should concern you. The best anyone can say about them is that maybe they’re safe. This piece by a TPM reader is a strong, cogent objection to the answers we’ve been given regarding their safety:

The TSA also admits that the ionizing radiation penetrates through 1/10 of an inch of the skin. While that might not sound like much to many lay folks, that is actually quite significant. There is A LOT going on in your skin at 1/10 of an inch. To expose that layer of skin to increased ionizing radiation will lead to increased damage and the potential for mutations and ultimately cancer. It would take years to figure this out and maybe that is what the TSA/DHS is hoping for… the fog of epidemiology to hide the true health impacts. Look how long it took for the risks of smoking cigarettes, with a clear danger, to become well accepted with tons of independent data confirming the point.

The FDA response to the UCSF letter basically says, “the machines are below the threshold of an arbitrary dose limit we developed with the help of the manufacturers of these machines.” Some scientists don’t think that that is good enough.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010