The new full body airport scanners received a lot of attention at the end of 2010. I travel frequently for my job so air travel is a big part of my life. I understand the need for security; I'm just not as convinced on the need for a full body scan that shows my completely exposed body.
The way the image appears on the scanner has many people concerned, so much so that Senators Ben Nelson and Charles E. Schumer are proposing a law that would make it illegal for airport security employees to take personal pictures of the scanner's images (the scanner itself can't store the images). When the law passes, that may put some travelers at ease. Ever since these scanners were implemented, it seems airports are allowed to invade your personal space, either through these images or via the thorough pat down. If you are randomly selected to be scanned, you are left with little options as far as protecting your personal space.
But more travelers might choose the humiliating pat down over full body scanners given the lack of research on the radiation effects. A group of scientist from the University of California-San Francisco urged the assistant to the President for Science and Technology to hold off from adopting full body scanners in airports until more research on the safety of these scanners is available. Currently, the effects of radiation emitted from the scanners are unknown. These scientists predict that emitting a dose of radiation directly to the skin is incredibly hazardous and could cause cancer, especially in the elderly, children, and pregnant women. The scientists recognized that in times of crisis (such as the events that occurred on 9/11), a sense of urgency is felt and many hasty decisions are made without taking into account the potential harmful effects they could cause in the future. The scientists referenced other moments in history where this happened in the medical world, such as risky blood transfusions during the AIDS epidemic.
The events on 9/11 changed the way airports look forever. With all this airport security hassle and references to 9/11, it's pretty amazing that not one but three box cutters were let on a plane recently at the JFK airport. Are airport scanners even doing their jobs? I'll let you be the judge.
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