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New Study Says TSA Scanners Are Safe

Full-body scanners used for security screenings at the nation’s airports do not expose passengers to dangerous levels of radiation, says a recent report from the Marquette University College of Engineering.

The lead researcher asserts that the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) backscatter scanners pose no threat to children, frequent flyers, or pilots; dosages are too low to be a problem.

Although the report dealt with TSA scanners, similar devices in other countries probably pose the same risk or lack of risk.

Like so many reassurance studies, this one will probably have very little impact on travelers. If you never considered TSA X-rays to be a problem, the study won’t change your view. And if you think that full-body scans are an unacceptable violation of privacy, the study won’t change those opinions, either.  

      Whichever group you fall into, you must nevertheless recognize that X-ray scanners are a fact of travel life. Your chances of encountering them will increase as the TSA installs them in more and more airports and usage expands worldwide. At least so far, however, at every U.S. airport I’ve seen, you can opt for an old-fashioned pat-down search in lieu of a body scan; but the TSA’s website does not promise this, so you have no hard assurance against future scans.

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