USA: airport body scanners are less invasive now, but not less radioactive (VIDEO)
Elena Vnorovscaia / Chişinău / Moldova.ORG / -- The Transportation Security Administration announced today that it is going to improve the privacy of full-body scanners by installing software that does not create passenger-specific images. Screeners will see a generic outline of the body on a monitor attached to the scanner. The software will auto-detect metallic and non-metallic concealed items.
Since the enhanced privacy allows the screener to review the image at the checkpoint instead of in a separate room, as is currently done, the TSA expects the scanning process to be more efficient.
Known as Automated Target Recognition (ATR), the software will be installed in the coming months on millimeter-wave scanners, which use electromagnetic waves to produce an image of the body. Of the 488 full-body scanners in airports nationwide, 241 are millimeter-wave and 247 are backscatter, which use low-level radiation beams to create an image of the body.
The TSA has unveiled its new “less invasive” security scanners that do not show images of a person’s naked body, but the new devices do nothing to address concerns voiced by numerous health authorities – the fact that the machines rely on firing cancer-causing radiation to produce the image in the first place.
“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole announced today that the agency will install new software on some body-scanning machines to make images less revealing and air passengers feel less stripped down,” reports Time.
“The new technology, called Automated Target Recognition, will be installed on millimeter wave machines, which make up about half of the 488 full-body scanners in use at U.S. airports. Images will no longer be passenger-specific, but instead will “auto-detect items that could pose a potential threat using a generic outline of a person for all passengers,” according to the TSA statement.”
However, both the millimeter wave and backscatter x-ray devices will continue to emit radiation that respected health authorities have warned will cause cancer. Despite claims to the contrary, the millimeter wave machines “tear apart DNA” to produce their image, while the backscatter devices fire ionizing radiation into the body.
Numerous highly respected universities and health bodies, including Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, the University of California, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, have all warned that the health threat posed by the scanners has not been properly studied and could lead to increased cancer rates.
Despite the TSA lying in claiming that Johns Hopkins had verified the safety of the scanners, Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at the Johns Hopkins school of medicine, has publicly warned that “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays”.
A study conducted last year by Dr David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s center for radiological research, also found that the body scanners are likely to lead to an increase in a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma, which affects the head and neck.
The new technology will be added to the other type of device used which relies on backscatter x-ray technology to produce the image.