Are TSA Scanners Likely To Cause Cancer In Travelers?

A Columbia University radiation expert says the Transportation Security Administration’s airport body scans are “likely” to cause cancer in some passengers. The expert also said Department of Homeland Security-commissioned research, which found that the exposure to radiation is minimal, is suspect because it has not been peer reviewed.

WorldNetDaily reports the expert, from Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research harshly condemns the body scanners, citing a peer-reviewed paper that was published in October in the Oxford Journal of Radiation Protection Dosimetry:

“If most air travelers went through these X-ray scanners, then it is indeed quite likely that there would be some number of cancers produced by the radiation,” he concluded.

“Skin cancers are a particular concern, because the low-energy X-rays used in these scanners deposit a significant fraction of their total dose in the skin,” he said. “In general, children are more sensitive than adults to radiation, and that’s true for the endpoint of radiation-related skin cancer too.”

However, he does say the risk of going through the scanner once is “minuscule.”

And even the peer-reviewed study the expert cites for backup states that “calculated effective doses are well below doses associated with health effects.”

Scientists at UC-San Francisco have reportedly written the White House, saying that “There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations” and “that the potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted.”

Americans ‘likely’ to get cancer from airport scanners [WND]

THE DOSE FROM COMPTON BACKSCATTER SCREENING [Oxford Journals]

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  1. akronharry says:

    You are unlikely to get sick if you take a dose of thalidomide before being zapped.
    Trust us, we know what we are doing!

  2. MonkeyMonk says:

    One’s got to wonder if this whole TSA fiasco is starting to cost the airlines money. We’ve got two sets of relatives who usually fly to visit for the holidays but they’ve both decided to drive this year rather than deal with potentially dangerous TSA body scans or invasive pat-downs.

    They can’t be the only ones making this decision (even if it is a tad irrational, IMO).

    • nbs2 says:

      We are working on curtailing our travel to minimal levels until this is resolved. We aren’t heavy travelers, normally taking 3 round-trips per year (currently 3 paid pax), plus a mileage run if I’m close to status, but not quite there. I think we’ll be able to drop down to one trip every year or one every two with out pissing off the in-laws too much.

    • nbs2 says:

      We are working on curtailing our travel to minimal levels until this is resolved. We aren’t heavy travelers, normally taking 3 round-trips per year (currently 3 paid pax), plus a mileage run if I’m close to status, but not quite there. I think we’ll be able to drop down to one trip every year or one every two with out pissing off the in-laws too much.

    • EmDeeEm says:

      My wife and I decided to drive instead of fly for a trip we were planning in Dec. Just not worth the hassle.

    • MuffinSangria says:

      I used to fly at least once a month for work and 1 or 2 times a year for pleasure. I have refused to travel by air for over 6 months now. Lucky, no one else can just come in and do my job so I can make those types of demands. We’ve worked out many solutions that are saving us money and I still get all my work done.

      • Bohemian says:

        I am rethinking a trip to Vegas this winter. The TSA harassment was already over the top before they added the scanner and full on molestation. Right now I am leaning towards just not doing the trip and it is specifically because of the new screening. The machines have not been properly and fully tested, there are also multiple scientific bodies raising concerns. The groping thing is just too much. I would end up smacking an agent just out of reflex reaction.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s been building for some time. The increased fares, itemization of fees, poor customer service, increased scrutinization of security and steward personnel, and now I have to be either irradiated or molested? Yeah, I think it’s come to a head.

    • Etoiles says:

      I’ve got a big pile of jetBlue points going unused right now. I’ve put up with enough shit from the TSA for years (sexual harassment is NOT a new thing for them), this was finally the last straw.

    • Buckus says:

      Obviously, my boycott of the airlines isn’t going to exactly hurt them. I’ve flow three roundtrips since 9/11, twice for business and once for pleasure. But still, you take out everybody who flys that often and you’re still talking about a chunk of change.

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      Between my husband and I, we *had* almost 80,000 miles points with Delta. I cashed our points in on goods, and wrote Delta explaining why we wouldn’t be needing them anytime soon. I got back a decent enough letter, with contact info for the TSA. The woman replying seemed pretty sincere about being sad to lose customers due to these shenanigans.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I read an article the other day that said increased security measures after 9/11 (after correcting for a drop in traffic due to 9/11 fear itself) contributed to about a 13% drop in traffic and then quantified that out to revenue. So, yes, I expect this will lead to a traffic and revenue drop. And that at some point, this will irritate corporations and stockholders enough that they’ll start bleating too.

  3. FatLynn says:

    I’d like to see a little more data…the act of flying itself exposes passengers to radiation. How does this compare to that, quantitatively?

    • MuffinSangria says:

      The comparison to 2 minutes of flight is what the TSA says, and they are known to be soooo reliable.

      It’s actually a different type of radiation. From an article linked in the referenced article:

      “The X-ray dose from these devices has often been compared in the media to the cosmic ray exposure inherent to airplane travel or that of a chest X-ray,” the professors’ letter states. “However, this comparison is very misleading: Both the air travel cosmic ray exposure and chest X-rays have much higher X-ray energies, and the health consequences are appropriately understood in terms of the whole body volume dose. In contrast, these new airport scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight/volume, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high.”

    • FatLynn says:

      FTR, flying exposes passengers to 3-4 μSv per hour.

      The security scanners expose passengers to about .15 uSv.

      If my math is right, that means that each hour of the flight exposes you to almost seven times as much radiation.

      • MrEvil says:

        But that radiation isn’t concentrated in your skin. That’s the issue here. These backscatter machines concentrate their minuscule dosage in your skin rather than the radiation passing completely through you like the radiation you get at altitude. The risk with these machines is you developing Melanomas.

        • ldub says:

          AND all these calculations assume that the machines are operating PERFECTLY. That they are checked regularly by professionally licensed experts and maintained well. Anyone want to calculate the odds on that?

    • Brontide says:

      I would also point out that involuntary radiation from going about your life is a lot different than ionizing radiation that is mandated by government fiat.

    • Veeber says:

      So here’s a exerpt from Bruce Schneier. Full article is at http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/11/tsa_backscatter.html

      “There’s talk about the health risks of the machines, but I can’t believe you won’t get more radiation on the flight. Here’s some data:

      A typical dental X-ray exposes the patient to about 2 millirems of radiation. According to one widely cited estimate, exposing each of 10,000 people to one rem (that is, 1,000 millirems) of radiation will likely lead to 8 excess cancer deaths. Using our assumption of linearity, that means that exposure to the 2 millirems of a typical dental X-ray would lead an individual to have an increased risk of dying from cancer of 16 hundred-thousandths of one percent. Given that very small risk, it is easy to see why most rational people would choose to undergo dental X-rays every few years to protect their teeth.

      More importantly for our purposes, assuming that the radiation in a backscatter X-ray is about a hundredth the dose of a dental X-ray, we find that a backscatter X-ray increases the odds of dying from cancer by about 16 ten millionths of one percent. That suggests that for every billion passengers screened with backscatter radiation, about 16 will die from cancer as a result.

      Given that there will be 600 million airplane passengers per year, that makes the machines deadlier than the terrorists.”

      • outlulz says:

        The argument made by critics would be that the death of 10 people per year of cancer caused by the machine would be much less than the amount of deaths caused by one hijacking or explosion of a plane caused by a terrorist not caught with the machines in place.

        • Dieflatermous says:

          Except there have been no terrorists caught, no explosions, and no crashes. The “BUT WHAT IF” game doesn’t work very well when the things you’re saying might happen statistically only ever happened ONCE of millions of commercial air traffic flights in the US. An alligator also caused a plane crash this year, are we defending against alligators yet?

    • Kate says:

      My ex was a military crew member in a large cargo jet all over the world. He died of leukemia a couple of years ago at the age of 52. He had fertility problems when he was just in his 30′s which apparently isn’t uncommon in flight crews due to radiation.

      I feel for the crews of commercial jets, they have to be getting radiation exposure constantly.

    • longdvsn says:

      it shouldn’t matter. This radiation is ‘in addition’ to any that would be exposed during flying. It’s not one or the other.

      The real question you should be asking is, are more people going to die or have health problems from this additional radiation exposure and current security measures vs no additional radiation exposure and previous security measures (just metal detector and slightly higher possibility of a terrorist attack).

      The big argument is that the additional protection offered by these additional screening methods does not significantly reduce the probability of a terrorist attack on your flight (which is already minuscule) and the additional radiation is more likely to cause harm.

  4. oldwiz65 says:

    A study funded by DHS will naturally say there is no danger. The companies doing the studies know full well who is paying them and what outcome is expected. They are NOT going to come up with something negative if they want to get paid and get further work. They know full well that if they come up with negative results, the study will be buried and someone else hired to do it “right”.

    This type of study is not independent and should not be trusted.

    • FatLynn says:

      But WND is suddenly a reliable source?

      I agree with you, that the TSA’s study is suspect, but without any data, this is just some guy’s opinion.

      • dgm says:

        No. This is some guy’s peer-reviewed scientific work. Just because the journal article was summarized in a source you don’t like doesn’t mean the journal content is invalid.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        This “some guy” you are referring to is an expert at low-dose radiation effects on large population groups. An insanely specializaed position who is exactly who you need to be talking to in this situation.

        But you are correct in that his word alone should not dictate policy. Except when his word is to have peer-reviewed research. Then yes, we should be doing exactly what he says.

  5. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    I’m not worried, I got my Rad-X. If it’s too bad, I’ll just have Fawkes fly for me.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      Couldn’t you also fast travel? I guess that wouldn’t work if you hadn’t already been to your destination, though.

    • Scurvythepirate says:

      But how else do you plan on getting “The Wasteland Survival Guide” achievement?

      • Etoiles says:

        When I actually found the Wasteland Survival Guide on a table outside of New Vegas, I had a good laugh. And also thought, “This book is deeply untrustworthy, and I know that because I remember getting it written.”

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Hey, you haven’t seen a guy with greasy hair and an ugly checked suit, have you?

    • cardigan says:

      Make sure you have some bottle caps on you if you want an in-flight meal.

    • MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

      “You cannot fast travel when TSA agents are nearby…”

      I’m just commenting because I actually get this reference, and I feel privileged.

    • lemur says:

      Actually Fawkes will refuse to fly. But I’ve heard that a patch is in the works.

    • mac-phisto says:

      i like to wash my rad-x down with a half-bottle of buffout, so if the TSA agent gets a little fresh on the pat-down, i can tear his head from his torso without breaking a sweat.

    • 24NascarDude says:

      Don’t forget to “pop some rad-away for good measure…only you can prevent human flesh fires.” – Three Dog

  6. TandJ says:

    The airlines have packed their planes 100% full since the recession began. If a few seats are unsold should not affect their ability to survive. Quite frankly, I would like to see the ability to fly more comfortably.

  7. Darrone says:

    Can I bring my coffee into the scanner with me? It’s starting to get a little cold.

  8. jason in boston says:

    Although I am against this security theatre, I am more alarmed that the TSA agents are not allowed to wear TLDs. They are essentially now rad workers – especially the ones right next to the machines all shift.

    • MrEvil says:

      They’re not even allowed to wear dosimeters they’ve purchased themselves.

      My guess is its to keep the public blissfully ignorant that these machines use radiation to image your body. Everyone sees the TSA agents wearing rad badges then they’ll be more reluctant to go through like good little sheep.

      I know I wouldn’t want my dad to go through these body scanners. He’s already a HUGE skin cancer risk from working out doors his whole life let’s just add more fuel to the fire.

      • Veeber says:

        They can wear them, they just can’t be visible. Plus if you have your own you have to send it somewhere to be read.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          Well, when you wear a dosimeter, you shouldn’t actually be able to see it anyway. Exposing them to sunlight can alter the readings. I always wore mine facing towards me with just the back clip exposed to the outside world.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      We can’t alarm the general public, now can we?

      I await the day a TSA worker who mans the backscatter machine gets cancer, and sues TSA. And I imagine he will win, since it’s clear radiation exists and they provided him/her with no protection or detection equipment.

      • mythago says:

        No, he won’t win. Because the TSA will claim immunity and point the finger at the scanner manufacturers, and the manufacturers will say “but we met all applicable government regulations!” and some jury will buy it.

  9. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    This would be more compelling if it had Ron Perlman doing a voice-over of the article. ;P

    - – - -

    So, I guess this would be the ‘evidence of potential cancer risk’ the apologists were waiting for?

  10. Fuzz says:

    I’d like to see some long term studies on these things before stepping into them. Oh, what’s that? you have no long term studies? I guess I’ll opt for the molestation for now. grrrr.

  11. Skellbasher says:

    WorldNetDaily is not exactly the most reputable source for factually accurate reports. So take this with a grain of salt.

    • mythago says:

      This is true, but they’re jumping on an established bandwagon. Their crazy just happens to overlap with the real world in this case.

  12. skapig says:

    Nothing new reported here. Just drawing attention to the fact that the full-body scanners have been rushed into service without putting them through their paces in the academic scientific process. A confident determination is premature at this time.

  13. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “Rez, however, had warned MSNBC viewers that while the risk of getting a fatal cancer may be tiny, it’s about equal to the probability an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist.

    He argues simply that either way, dead is dead. “

  14. hypochondriac says:

    DO those radiation badges measure dose absorbed accurately? Star wearing them and see what the backscatter scan puts out

    • jason in boston says:

      The badges not so much. When I was a nuke in in the Navy, we had 2 different types of TLDs. 1 that we wore throughout our term on the ship that fit on our belt. It was the size of those tiny sharpie pens. The other type was a pen-size dosemeter that was very accurate and instantly readable without any special instruments.

      I don’t know how accurate the “badge – type” dosemeters are (range of mRem they can show).

  15. leastcmplicated says:

    and we’re likely to get cancer from the sun, or smoking, or fake and bake or an xray at the doctor or for unexplained reasons. Charlie forbid there’s another terrorist attack and the boycotters will say DHS and Obama arent doing enough to stop terrorists. Either way the sh*t doesnt work, TSA missed the 12″ razor blades Adam Savage of Mythbusters had mistakenly left in his jacket.

    “Just before I was going through the scanner they put me through the body scanner, which for some reason makes my penis feel really small. And then I get on the airplane and I noticed I brought this thing with me — two twelve inch long steel razor blades””

    (source: http://wireupdate.com/wires/12663/now-this-television-host-claims-tsa-missed-his-12-inch-razor-blades/)

  16. DanRydell says:

    1. lol@WorldNetDaily

    2. There’s a huuuuuuuuuuuge difference between “likely to cause cancer” in an individual and “likely to cause cancer” in some small number of people out of tens of millions who could pass through these machines in the future. Your headline would be equally accurate if it said “Walking from your front door to your car ‘likely to cause cancer.’

    • sqlrob says:

      There is a difference, correct. Now lets go back to the group odds on dying by terrorism.

    • mythago says:

      2a. And there is a huuuuuuge difference between “These scanners are like totally safe” and “These scanners are generally safe, but some people, such as those at high risk for skin cancer, should not go through them.”

  17. icy_one says:

    Really? We use WorldNetDaily as a source now? You must be fucking kidding me.

  18. misterfweem says:

    Until I can read the science, I’m not going to comment on it. But considering that World Net Daily is also a fountain of gibberish concerning President Obama’s citizneship, I’d like to think Consumerist would find a more reputable link to feature in this story. The links provided by WND may be legitimate, but your average everyday imbecile such as myself will never know, as those links lead to the science behind a paywall.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      The source is legitimate, even if you think the distributor of the information is not.

      • satoru says:

        The ‘source’ they quote is quoted entirely out of context. Without context you have no idea how even the ‘likely’ quote that they got is even used. They don’t even quote him in a full sentence, just use the word ‘likely’. The rest of the article is pure speculation and innuendo they made up. They just start the article with a ‘quote’ from a scientist, then just go into their own rant with nothing to back up any subsequent claims. They just make you infer that the scientist said all the other things since it’s prefaced with his ‘likely’ quote.

      • misterfweem says:

        I’m not questioning the source. I’m questioning the distributor as interpreter. And since Consumerist is relying on the distributor here as the interpreter of the source document, I have a problem with that. A more legitimate source interpreting the science behind the paywall lends more credence to the science than a ludicrous source interpreting the science.

        And whether the distributor is legitimate or not, I like to look at the source documents.

    • lacabaleza says:

      Do you actually want to read the science?
      http://www.public.asu.edu/~atppr/RPD-Final-Form.pdf

  19. ElleAnn says:

    If I worked for the TSA near the scanners, I would buy my own radiation detector http://www.amazon.com/Nukepills-com-RADTriage-Personal-Radiation-Detector/dp/B002PIR1I4 to track my personal exposure.

  20. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    on my way to work i heard a new radio commercial from the state’s tourism board listing a bunch of tourist destinations you can get to in-state by car and it urges residents to take road trips instead of flying. it wasn’t blatant enough to bring up the security concerns, but it was clear the tourism board is wanting to make up in local traffic what it will lose on out of state visitors from the hassles and risks of air travel

  21. Tim says:

    WorldNetDaily? Really Phil? The strongest force behind the birther movement? And perhaps also the strongest force behind the 9/11 conspiracy theories?

    Really?

  22. ousterj says:

    I’d be a lot more comfortable if the TSA would let Consumer Reports test the full body scanners radiation and report.

  23. Macgyver says:

    All of this is speculation. This doesn’t give you any data. It doesn’t say if it does or doesn’t gives you cancer. Or how much radiation it puts out.

  24. Nighthawke says:

    Has the DOE Nuclear Department even been consulted in this matter of dosages? I want to see some how much a nominal dosage from a typical scan a person receives.

    And why are the testers working around the systems without dosimeters?

    Even the dental labs have to adhere to radiation regulations when it comes to using x-rays.

    The laws pertaining to radiation were chiseled in stone, and filled in with blood.

    I don’t care if God himself said the screeners are safe, I want to see the numbers.

    • satoru says:

      The answer to that is yes the study has been done, and no the dosages are well below common thresholds

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068018

      “Nevertheless, calculated effective doses are well below doses associated with health effects.”

      • mac-phisto says:

        it’s interesting that you don’t quote the sentence before that one in the abstract:

        “The effective doses for personnel screening systems are unlikely to be in compliance with the American National Standards Institute standard NS 43.17 unless the pixel sizes are >4 mm. “

        so, while the doses may be below those associated with health effects, they’re not in compliance with standards developed specifically for these types of machines under NS 43.17 -”Radiation Safety for Personnel Security Screening Systems Using X-Rays”. it’s incredibly careless for a government agency to purchase devices that don’t conform to pre-defined industry standards, don’t you think?

  25. OmniZero says:

    I’m actually concerned for sensitive parts of the body with this one. Breast cancer, testicular cancer, etc. Does the government even think about these things? Frankly I’m not one for a government that won’t let other people determine if something is safe or not, nor am I for one that may be potentially killing us in order to “prevent” us from potentially being killed by others.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      “I’m actually concerned for sensitive parts of the body with this one. Breast cancer, testicular cancer, etc.”

      Nobody likes roasted nuts. ;3

    • MrEvil says:

      Thankfully the emissions from these machines won’t penetrate your skin. So no risk of breast or testicular cancer. HOWEVER, because the emissions don’t penetrate the skin you are at risk of skin cancer.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        So you’re at the same risk as if you say, walked outside on a sunny day?

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        but is skin cancer more likely to happen in areas that aren’t normally exposed to the sun?

        Seriously, I have a darker complexion than most of my friends and have worked plenty of hours in the sun with no ill effects (yet), but will my sack or ass get skin cancer more easily due to lack of exposure?

  26. ResearchGuy says:

    Just hold up your cellphone when you go into the scanner, and the cancer-causing EMF radiation from the phone will cancel out the cancer-causing X-rays…

  27. Ouze says:

    I will consider this report from WorldNetDaily with the same gravitas as I gave to their expose of Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate.

    You done failed, Consumerist.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      The source is legit, even if the provider isn’t.

      • Ouze says:

        No, not really. They ARE the source. This opinion is an interview with a subject, not reporting on a published paper.They aren’t pulling information from elsewhere, they are stating that this is what he said. As such, the reliability of the article is based on the integrity of the publisher. Since they have proven quite willing to report on completely fabricated stories in the past, they have absolutely no reliability.

  28. vastrightwing says:

    I’m going to start a new line of clothing with tin-foil lining. Seriously, they don’t make you undress (yet) to go through the machines, so why not wear radiation safe clothes? This should work out well. I just hope the population outcry won’t make the TSA stop using these machines, or my whole business model will fail.

    Next item, transfers that make cool images on the scanners so you can say how you feel to the TSA for making you get scanned.

    • qwickone says:

      If they see something suspicious, you have to go to another round of screening. I’m pretty sure they’ll consider that suspicious.

  29. AngryK9 says:

    I will only go through one of these scanner thingies if the TSA promises that I will glow a nice subtle shade of green. I’ve got to save on my electric bill somehow.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Only if you’re wearing copper-doped zinc sulphide, and they dip you in radium ;3

  30. JBTX says:

    It was already happening, I drove the family from Dallas TX to Canada this summer simply to avoid flying.
    Took us 4 days to get there, and a little over a week to get home, but it was the best trips we have ever taken. We saw and did so much we would have just missed, it was amazing. We did more in one trip than most people do in 6.

    And with the new TSA procedures we wont even consider flying now.

  31. NickelMD says:

    WorldNutDaily, Consumerist? Really? You quoted the biggest organized hive of conspiracy theorists and whackaloon conservative trolls on the internet?

    Please tell me that you paid the $32 to get access to the article and evaluated it yourself? ‘Cuz the abstract that is available sure as hell doesn’t support the idea quoted.

  32. sopmodm14 says:

    i’d wear sunscreen before i go take the scanner

    how many times is the average flyer exposed ?

    4-6x per year @ 1-2 minutes a scan ?

    if that were the case, tanning salons would be sued beyond recognition already

    • satoru says:

      Sunscreen isn’t going to help against a backscatter device. Hell sunscreen doesn’t even work well against the stuff it’s supposed to protect you from in the first place.

  33. B says:

    So, just wear sunscreen before going through the machines? SPF 50 ought to do it.

  34. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Would this mess up a tattoo? I know it’s sunlight isn’t good for them, and if the radiation from the scanner concentrates in the skin, would it break up the ink?

    I paid $300 for my Hogwarts crest and if the scanner messes it up, they’re gonna pay for it!

  35. menelaus says:

    David Brenner was actually my professor. CNN interviewed him on the same topic and funny enough, the headline was slightly less hyperbolic than WorldNetDaily.

    CNN – Airport body-scan radiation under scrutiny
    WorldNetDaily – Americans ‘likely’ to get cancer from airport scanners

    http://articles.cnn.com/2010-11-12/travel/body.scanning.radiation_1_backscatter-radiological-research-radiation?_s=PM:TRAVEL

    There are decent sources of information and then there are junk publications. WorldNetDaily is a junk publication.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorldNetDaily

  36. DovS says:

    The answer really depends on what is meant by that question.

    If you’re asking whether an individual traveler, is likely to get cancer from a single scan, the answer is no, the amount of radiation is very, very small so, while it is possible to get cancer, it is extremely unlikely.

    However, if you are asking whether it is likely that ANY traveler will get cancer from the new scanners, the answer is yes.

    Without longer study, we can’t know the exact numbers but some estimates would say that the danger of getting cancer from a single scan could be as small as 1 in 500,000. But when you consider that 800 million people travel by air each year, that would mean we should expect an average of around 1,600 people to get cancer from the scanners each year.

    So, is it likely to be YOU? No. Is it likely to happen at all and happen a lot? Absolutely.

  37. menelaus says:

    Originally, this article was titled, “Columbia Radiation Expert: TSA Scans ‘Likely To Cause Cancer.”

    I’m assuming the expert complained that he did not say that and that the original headline was misleading.

  38. TheGreySpectre says:

    I don’t care if they cause cancer or not I still don’t want to do them.

  39. DrLumen says:

    I was wondering about all this TSA flap… Can we just moon them or tell them to perform fellatio and get it over with? Since the TSA wants this so bad, will indecent exposure but prosecuted?

    Not that I’m the flasher type but it made me wonder when I read an article about a guy planning on wearing a kilt. I wonder how only a trench coat would be received… Would that be concealing a friendly weapon? ;)

  40. Geekybiker says:

    Fun bit is that even the low radiation from these scanners is likely to kill more people through inducing cancer than are likely to die in a terrorist attack during the same period.

  41. CreekDog says:

    Popular Mechanics (of all places) is saying amputees have to get about 10 x-rays (or more) while wearing their limb more from a portable x-ray machine (CastScope). This happens each time one flies. I called TSA –they said there is no “opt-out” for this device. You must take the scans in whatever number they choose to give to you (they say 4 to 6 –fliers are reporting more).

    What’s the safety of one of these devices pointed at a specific part of your body multiple times. To x-ray my leg while wearing it, they are going to be x-raying that region of my body lots of times, perhaps a 100 times in a given year (if I take 5 roundtrips by plane).

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/aviation/safety/the-problem-with-prosthetics-and-airport-security

    I have no idea to escape x-rays to my body. I’ve even asked TSA if I could remove the limb while they xray it away from my body and they aren’t sure but their website says they scan it while you wear it (that’s the design).

  42. maynurd says:

    Likely to cause cancer in some passengers… After one scan, ten scans, a hundred scans, a thousand scans…. Seems deliberately vague to me. Is there anything in our lives today that we are exposed to that does not have the possibility of causing cancer in somebody??

  43. BytheSea says:

    It “might” do nothing or this “might” turn out to be the next thalidomide disaster. I was adopted and I don’t know anything about my medical history or risk factors. I’m not going through those death ray booths.