Physicians’ group and FDA say radiation risk from TSA scanning is “miniscule”

With all the news today about the new body scanners that TSA is using, I thought it might be reassuring for my readers to understand that the radiation exposure in these scans is incredibly low. In fact, a national group of radiologists is now saying that it would take 1,000 TSA whole body scans in one year to reach the effective dose of radiation a person gets with one standard chest X-ray.

USA Today reports,”The nation’s Homeland Security chief asked for air travelers’ ‘cooperation’ and ‘patience’ with full-body scanning and pat downs this holiday season amid a growing public backlash that the airport tactics are intrusive.”

But, “some consumer, civil rights and pilots groups are protesting new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) methods,” in part because they “could emit dangerous radiation,” even though “a Food and Drug Administration review found no health threat.”

CNN also covered  the story, and noted that the “American College of Radiology, an organization of more than 34,000 professionals, including radiologists, oncologists and medical physicists, said it believes backscatter technology is safe.”

The group stated, “The ACR is not aware of any evidence that either of the scanning technologies that the TSA is considering would present significant biological effects for passengers screened.”

The organization referenced a report from the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, citing that a traveler would need to receive 100 doses of backscatter radiation per year to reach what it calls a “Negligible Individual Dose.”

“By these measurements, a traveler would require more than 1,000 such scans in a year to reach the effective dose equal to one standard chest X-ray,” the group’s statement said.

The probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that of being killed in a terror attack are roughly the same, he said. About one in 30 million.

The bottom line, and I’m on the road over 150 days a year, I won’t think twice about going through the whole body scanner at the airports this year.

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