TSA AIRPORT SECURITY X-RAY SCREENING IS DANGEROUS and poses a major threat to you health!
The biggest travel days of the entire year are upon us, and the hottest subject of media attention is the controversial airport security x-ray screening practices that are being carried out by the Transportation Security Authority (TSA).
These days anyone traveling by commercial airlines flying out of most of the major airports is faced with the choice of two screening procedures. They can either submit to potentially dangerous full body x-ray screening, showing the individuals anatomy in intimate detail, or they can “opt out” and thus have to submit to a very personal “pat down” which includes the manual exploration of everything including breasts and genitalia.
Many people take exception to the idea of both practices as being an extreme invasion of privacy and a health hazard. Others justify the procedures as necessary to protect the public from terror threats.
The privacy issues are very serious. But the dangers of radiation exposure, and consequent cancer risk caused by the x-ray screening machines are very real, whatever your feelings about the privacy issue.
This risk is summarily dismissed by TSA officials who claim that their x-ray screening machines create minimal or “low level” radiation exposure, with little if any public risk. The TSA claims that the x-ray exposure is comparable to that which passengers are exposed to in an hour or so when flying, which is supposed to make it acceptable.
My position is that there is a very real danger from airport x-ray screening radiation, and that is poses a health hazard to those being scanned, as well as to those doing the scanning.
What seems to be missing from the public debate is a discussion of the physics of x-rays and how it effects the human body. As a chiropractor with extensive education and experience in the use and effects of x-ray, I can assure you that they are indeed dangerous. I take exception to the TSA’s claim that the ‘low level” of x-rays generated by their machines are not in any way harmful.
My opinion is based on my knowledge of the physics of x-rays. There are three factors involved in the production of x-rays. They are miliamperage, kilovoltage, and time.
- Milliamperage is the measure of the actual amount of x-rays produced.
- Kilovoltage is the measure of the electrical power propelling the x-rays.
- Time is the duration of x-ray production or exposure.
The characteristics of the image produced by x-rays are dependent upon the combination of the above factors adjusted to produce the desired quality of image.
The cleanest x-rays are produced by a combination of low milliamperage or a small amount of x-rays, powered by high kilovoltage for the least amount of time, dependent upon the thickness or density of the subject to be imaged. This is known as a high KVP, low MAS technique.
This is the kind of x-ray technique chiropractors use to get finely detailed images of the spine for biomechanical analysis. The benefit to the patient is a minimal amount of time exposure to a minimal amount of ionizing radiation.
X-rays penetrating human tissue under high power for a short duration of time are the least damaging. This minimizes what is known as scatter radiation.
X-ray images such as those produced by the airport screening machines can only be produced by a low kilovoltage (power), high milliamperage (a lot of x-rays) with a long exposure time, resulting in dangerous scatter radiation.
Scatter radiation does not penetrate the tissue, but is absorbed by it, thus damaging tissue, affecting it’s cellular structure and DNA. This causes the carcinogenic effect.
The length of exposure time is the major factor in determining how much damaging radiation a person is subjected to. The other important factor is that the low penetration by x-rays necessary to produce the detailed full body image coincidentally produces a maximal amount of scatter radiation because relatively few of the x-rays pass through the body. Most are absorbed, which is damaging.
By contrast, a properly exposed spinal x-ray is taken in a fraction of a second. The x-ray beam is collimated or limited to expose only the part to be imaged.
The TSA airport security screening x-rays expose the whole body for as much as 30 or more seconds. That is an unacceptable amount of radiation exposure, and of the much more dangerous type (scatter radiation) than targeted medical x rays. In other words the danger of airport x-ray screening is very real.
In summary, it is the multiple levels of x-ray penetration of body parts that produce the intimately detailed full body image. This can only be done by a long “dirty” exposure to damaging radiation. TSA airport security x-ray screening is dangerous.
It is important to note that x-ray exposure is cumulative, making it a real health liability to frequent flyers and airline personnel. However the health liability to the occasional flyer should not be overlooked and must be considered in the context of other sources of radiation exposure, such as medical x-rays and CAT scans.
Read more about the damaging effects of x-rays, in an article, Protect Your DNA from CT Scans and X-rays, by Robert Klein, published in the August 2010 issue of Life Extension.