“Safety” at a price.

Ever since the attack on the Twin Towers back in 2001, security at airports has been significantly increased to help ensure no aircraft is ever hijacked again. But some of the new security measures have not been welcomed by all, with the prime example being the new full-body X-ray scanners.

These scanners are controversial for two reasons. The first is that they allow operators to see an intimate, graphic view of the person being scanned. But that has been solved to a large extent by the use of privacy filters.

The second, and much larger concern is the risk of them causing cancer…

In order to scan a person below their clothing the machines employ ionizing radiation. Even though this is known to be damaging to our DNA, it is argued that a single scan forms a very small dose, so is deemed as acceptable in the U.S. In Europe however, it has just been decided that the machines form a risk to passenger’s health and safety, and therefore cannot be used.

This will surely cause some concern among those who regularly use U.S. airports and the body scanners. If Europe has banned them for health and safety reasons, why are U.S. airports happy to allow millions of people to be exposed to this radiation before flying?

The TSA‘s response when asked about the decision in Europe was to point towards the rigorous testing the technology is subjected to, plus the fact 300+ “dangerous and illegal items” have been detected by employing the body scanners.

Such a response offers little reassurance when others have decided it causes a health risk. It also doesn’t help that the TSA was accused of covering up the fact significantly more TSA workers were developing cancer earlier this year from working around the scanners.

But thankfully there is an alternative, and unless the rules have changed I believe you can opt out of being scanned and instead be subjected to a thorough search by a member of airport security. Failing that, you could always choose to wear 4th Amendment underclothes in protest.

Read more at Propublica