I have some thoughts on the recent press on full-body scanners. I can appreciate the opinions of David Brenner and David Schauer. I believe they are likely correct that the amount of radiation one is exposed to during one scan is relatively low and well worth the enhanced level of security. However, the point is well made that this risk escalates for children and frequent fliers; but what the risk for pregnant women, and people who for medical reasons have already been exposed to a heavy dose of radiation? It is also a good point that “In the present context, if a billion X-ray backscatter scans were performed each year, one might anticipate 100 cancers each year resulting from this activity.” One hundred cancers are too many, despite the fact that he suggests this could be the result of a billion scans. On the flip side, are 100 cancers worth the risk to our National Security? One of the victims might not agree; not to mention the other “victims”, those who are humiliated from being asked to stand in an embarrassing pose while someone views their naked body.
“Schauer advocates for stronger government regulation of the use of backscatter X-ray scanners to be certain that passengers are not exposed unnecessarily or to unsafe levels of radiation.” Schauer also suggests that “When a government concludes that security screening of people with backscatter X-rays is justified, then regulatory control should be implemented.” By installing these scanners, one would think they have concluded that our safety is more important than our health or mental health, and if they are not in control, who is? Further, how is one to know the truth in the Government’s risk assessment? How much is too much? Radiation exposures from the tragic events in Japan really highlight this issue. I have to agree with Mike Adams that we cannot always assume the government knows best. After all, weren’t they the same folks who declared the air at Ground Zero “safe” after 9/11? So, while I appreciate the reassuring words of David Brenner and David Schauer, and agree that the risk is not excessive, we all need to understand that the risk is still real, as real as the threats to our security. Believe me, I get it, I was downtown for 9/11 and I very much appreciate all that has been done to avoid another such incident. They added these scanners to protect us, the citizens, but maybe, just maybe, they need to come up with a safer alternative.