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Report- Airport Scanner Cancer Risks

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susan_harr6 years ago

Government officials “glossed over” reports of cancer risks associated with the X-ray scanners used in airports, independent newsroom ProPublica is reporting. These scanners (which were reportedly never meant to be used in airports) use low levels of ionizing radiation to scan human bodies for weapons. There are currently 250 X-ray scanners operating in U.S. airports.

X-ray Scanners, Radiation, and Cancer

“Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines. Still, the TSA has repeatedly defined the scanners as “safe,” glossing over the accepted scientific view that even low doses of ionizing radiation — the kind beamed directly at the body by the X-ray scanners — increase the risk of cancer,” ProPublica.

No FDA Regulation for Airport Scanners

X-ray machines that are used in hospitals and doctor’s offices are regulated by the FDA, the government agency with the authority to oversee medical devices. The safety of airport X-ray scanners, however, is not overseen by the FDA because these scanners are not considered medical devices. Instead, they are classified as electronic products and are inspected on an annual basis by their own manufacturer, Rapiscan. Other ProPublica findings: 

  • TSA skipped a public comment period required before deploying the scanners.
  • TSA relied on unpublished research to vouch for the safety of the scanners.
  • TSA ignored warnings from authorities in the U.S. and Europe about using the machines on pregnant women.
  • The manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, secured its large contracts as a result of extensive lobbying efforts.
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