EU Bans X-Ray Scanners in Airports

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X-Ray scanners have made their way into airports across the U.S., but now Europe has banned the devices due to concerns they cause cancer. The Daily Mail has more on how the U.S. is responding to the news.

"The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) was today under huge pressure to follow Europe in banning airport 'strip-searches' over fears the X-ray technology could cause cancer. ... The controversial scanners emit low radiation doses and the European Union has told members not to install them until the potential risks are assessed."

Instead of X-ray scanners, European airports will use millimeter-wave scanners that utilize low-energy radio waves. My Health News Daily explains how the TSA justifies using the X-rays.

"...TSA says these scanners use a low dose of radiation... equivalent to the radiation a person would be exposed to in two minutes of flying in an airplane ... A person would have to be screened more than 1,000 times per year in order to exceed the yearly radiation dose limit."

But those statistics aren't universally accepted. New York Daily News says the numbers aren't the same for everyone.

"...experts ... have raised health concerns, noting that even small doses can affect high-risk populations, like kids or people already at risk for skin cancer."

Meanwhile Propublica reminds us that, post 9/11, the government seems more willing to accept security measures that were considered risky before the attack.

"How did the United States swing from considering such X-rays taboo to deeming them safe enough to scan millions of people a year? A new wave of terrorist attacks using explosives concealed on the body, coupled with the scanners' low dose of radiation, certainly convinced many radiation experts that the risk was justified."

But WSOCTV reports that passengers still name safety as their most important concern.

REPORTER: "They were still willing to put their feelings about privacy aside in order to boost their security."
PASSENGER: "Do what you go to do to make sure we're safe, that's my concern. Safety."

According to ProPublica, about 250 X-ray scanners are currently being used in American airports.

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