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Pregnant Women, Children Should Avoid New Airport Scanners, Expert Says

By HERWriter
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Pregnancy related image Photo: Getty Images

According to Dr. Philip Rothbart, a Wilmington, DE physician and attorney, pregnant women and small children should avoid the new backscatter airport scanners. The backscatter airport scanners emit ionizing radiation or X-rays.

ʺIn no case are the backscanners safe for pregnant women or small children who are highly sensitive to ionizing radiation, said Rothbart. ʺOn its face, it appears safe due to the small doses. But any dose of radiation increases your chances for cancer and leukemias.ʺ

Rothbart recommends that all pregnant women and children under 12 undergo the extensive TSA pat-down procedure.

Also, Rothbart expressed concern regarding a possible scanner malfunction which could increase radiation exposure. ʺWe are under the assumption the machine is properly maintained, properly calibrated and the operator is properly trained.ʺ

The scanners are not subject to United States Food and Drug Administration inspection because they are not a medical device.

Other researchers expressed a similar concern. In a 2010 journal article, Arizona State University physicists Peter Rez, Ph.D., and Kenneth Mossman, Ph.D., wrote that “serious consideration should be given to the possibility of unintended and unnecessary doses to passengers due to malfunctioning equipment.”

In a recent survey by airfarewatchdog.com, 36 percent of those surveyed said they don't want to be scanned because the scanners are "a gross invasion of privacy," and 7 percent of the survey takers said they would prefer to be searched using the TSA's newly enhanced pat-down technique.

The new scanners deliver 0.01 millirem (the unit use to measure radiation). 10,000 millirem is considered the danger threshold. The low-level radiation creates an image of the screened passengers to uncover weapons or contraband hidden beneath clothing. The TSA states that the scanners cannot penetrate the skin or reveal items hidden inside the body.

To put the backscanner radiation in context, here is a comparison to other amount of radiation:
• A chest X-ray has 100 times more radiation more than a backscanner
• A single dental X-ray has 330 times more radiation than a backscanner

Add a Comment2 Comments

The backscatter scanners -- foisted on the TSA by Rapiscan lobbyist/former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff -- are dangerous. The video posted below from After the Press (afterthepress.com) has broken through the major media hyperbole barrier to answer the real questions about what’s wrong with these machines. Neither of the interviewees, two of the most reputable scientists in the field of radiation physics and technology, will step into one. So whether or not you’re offended by the prospect of becoming the subject of a live peepshow for blue-gloved agents, or care about your rights being abrogated, you’ll still want to be cognizant of the danger in subjecting your or your children's bodies to backscatter radiation.


December 24, 2010 - 3:14am
EmpowHER Guest

Read and view these 2 before you go through a scanner:



December 23, 2010 - 5:30pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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