The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been using full body scanners in airports for about a year now, and many scientists continue to wonder whether they pose a health risk to travelers because of the small amount of radiation they emit.
The scanners use x-ray technology to create pictures of objects under a traveler's clothing. They are meant to detect things metal detectors can miss in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks and dangerous activity on airplanes.
Manufacturers and TSA representatives say the machines are safe, but many scientists have misgivings about whether they could pose a cancer risk to people who travel frequently. While scientists continue to pursue research into the machines' safety, TSA and the machines' developers insist they are safe and continue to develop new technologies for scanning air travelers.
"We all became kind of concerned as to what exactly were the intensities of these X-rays. And the more questions we asked, it was clear there were fewer and fewer answers." - John Sedat, scientist, University of California
"They use as small amount of X-rays as possible that we can generate, because that actually helps in the detection, having the lower-power X-ray. And, so, it's about equivalent to eating -- the same level of radiation you get from eating about half-a-banana. The potassium in a banana is slightly radioactive." - Peter Kant, Rapiscan Systems
1. What is radiation? What are some sources of radiation?
2. What happens when you go through the security line at the airport?
3. What changes have taken place in airport security recently?
1. Did this report make you feel okay about going through security scanners at the airport? Why or why not?
2. What examples of radiation sources were given in this video? Did any of them surprise you?
3. Do you think more research should be done into the safety of TSA airport scanners? Why or why not? What questions do you still have about the technology and its safety?