Study - Security scanners don't pose health risks
Monday, June 11, 2012
While the Transportation Security Administration has tried to make travel safer over the years by adding security screening scanners at the nation's airports, many believe the scanners expose travelers to levels of radiation that could be harmful.
A recent study by the Marquette University College of Engineering that will appear in the upcoming issue of international medical journal Medical Physics, dispels the concerns of travelers who believe the machines pose a health risk.
According to the study, the radiation levels that are given off by the backscatter x-ray scanners are considerably lower than those used in X-ray procedures such as mammograms, despite reaching 29 organs including the heart and brain when travelers pass through them.
The study was authored by Taly Gilat Schmidt, assistant professor of biomedical engineering for Marquette University, who used scanner radiation data from the TSA and ran the numbers through simulation software in order to gauge the level of radiation that passes through travelers who encounter the scanners. However, the study has its critics because the data used was collected by the TSA.
"We do not truly know the risk of this radiation exposure over multiple screenings, for frequent fliers, those in vulnerable groups, or TSA's own employees operating the machines," said Maine Senator Susan Collins in a recent statement.
Airport security has improved with the implementation of the scanning machines. According to recent research from the Travel Leaders Group, more than 66 percent of U.S. travelers said they were "satisfied" with the level of security at the nation's airports.
"The vast majority of American air travelers have adapted to today's airport security measures and, despite any perceived inconveniences, understand that the safety and well-being of all airline passengers is paramount," said Barry Liben, CEO of the Travel Leaders Group. "We work hard to counsel our clients, so they understand what to expect and offer tips on making their airport experience as stress-free as possible."
With travelers feeling safer when passing through U.S. airports, trips can continue to increase as security measures get better. When planning their trips, American travelers should research booking overnight stays in serviced apartments, which also offer high levels of security. Security guards and a front desk attendant are always present to ensure no foul play can occur.