Airport Full-Body Scanners Pose Little Risk to Health, Study Says

The radiation doses from full-body scanners were below recommended standards and considerably lower than radiation levels in other X-ray procedures, such as a mammogram, according to the study.

A study by the Marquette University College of Engineering says that full-body scanners used for security at the nation’s airports do not expose passengers to dangerous levels of radiation. The non-government-funded study examined the amount of radiation that full-body scanners transmit to individual organs. The research was completed by Taly Gilat Schmidt, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette, and Michael E. Hoppe, a Marquette graduate student.

Their study estimated radiation exposure to 29 organs, including skin, eye lens, heart, and the brain—using complex mathematical models that represent the shape and tissue density of human bodies and organs. By comparison, previous studies funded through the Transportation Security Administration used more simplified, generic mathematical models, according to Marquette authors.

The Marquette study used four models: a 34-year-old male, a 26-year-old female, an 11-year-old female, and a 6-year-old male. The study found that radiation from full-body scanners was deposited below the skin in all four models, but the doses were below recommended standards and considerably lower than radiation levels in other X-ray procedures, such as a mammogram.

Gilat Schmidt noted the study was based on data provided from TSA. "Access to the machines for measurements and assessments is limited. Public disclosure of the systems' specifications would enable more accurate system modeling," said Gilat Schmidt.

The paper is currently available online and will be published in the June issue of Medical Physics.

Two types of scanners are currently being used in airports by the TSA: the backscatter X-ray and the millimeter wave scanner. The backscatter-type machines use low-level ionizing radiation to create two-sided images. Wave scanners use radio waves, instead of ionizing radiation, to create three-dimensional images.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Best Practices to Navigate ISO 45001

    Learn helpful tips and tricks to navigate your transition to ISO 45001 certification and ensure an effective health and safety management system.

  • Improve Your Safety Culture

    Learn the 3 fundamental areas to focus on to achieve safety culture excellence and what you can do to boost employee engagement in your EHS programs.

  • Chemical Safety: 5 Questions Answered by Experts

    Get answers to 5 of the most frequently asked questions about how to effectively mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your chemical data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management technology program.

  • How Has COVID-19 Changed Safety Culture?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique opportunities for health and safety professionals to rethink how they manage risk and develop stronger safety cultures. Read this eBook to learn actionable steps you can implement today to improve your programs.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2021

    January February 2021


      Tips for Choosing the Best Training Software
      Assessing the Dangers of Dust Explosions
      Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
      Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
    View This Issue