Airport body scanners are safe, and the public should be informed and reassured regarding their use. Those are the findings published today, Friday 03 June 2011, in a report, Airport Security Scanners & Ionising Radiation, from a working group of The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) and the British Institute of Radiology (BIR).
The group reviewed the published literature on the two types of body scanner currently being tested in the UK and abroad:
- the backscatter x-ray scanner is the system currently being appraised in the UK; this emits very low levels of ionising radiation. The group observed that the average dose from a single scan is 100,000 times lower than the average annual dose of radiation a person receives from natural background radiation and medical sources.
- the millimetre wave scanner; this uses radiowave frequencies rather than ionising radiation and is currently being trialled at some airports in France. Both systems are in use in the United States.
Dr Tony Nicholson, Dean of the RCR's Faculty of Clinical Radiology, "Both passengers, and airport and airline workers, have the right to be informed about the levels of radiation they are exposed to. However, they should be reassured that these levels are very low indeed, and are well regulated in the UK, being subject to the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999, enforced by the Health and Safety Executive."
Royal College of Radiologists