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
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Comply with OSHA’s Electronic Recordkeeping Requirements

    Collect relevant incident data and generate accurate OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 regulatory reports, including 300A CSV files for easy electronic submission to OSHA.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Easy to Use Safety Inspection App

    Conduct inspections on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Complete safety audits at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus