Dr. Weeks’ Comment: My wife and I and our 4 daughters travel extensively. None of us have EVER allowed ourselves to be exposed to these scanners which TSA employees parrot “do not harm” to inquiring travelers. Fact they DO indeed harm. The article below explains….
We know that “The risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appear to have been fully evaluated,” they said, and the “policy toward pregnant women needs to be defined.”
But the back story is also worth knowing. The man who co-authored the Patriot Act is responsible for this inefficient and ineffective TSA boondoggle: His lobbying firm Chertoff Group (founded 2009) represents manufacturers of the scanners.
In an era of blatant self service, such double dipping is rarely questioned. This time it was…
“…Testimony by ex-Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff held sway with lawmakers but was later questioned after CNN reported that Rapiscan, the California company that makes the backscatter machines as well as cargo and baggage screening systems, was a client of Chertoff ‘s private security company…” SOURCE
Yes, Airport Millimeter Wave Scanners Alter DNA
Every year millions of people pass through whole-body millimeter wave and x-ray scanners in US airports with the trust that our government agencies have throughly investigated the health effects of such devices. And even though the EU & UK have banned such technologies, the public is continuously assured that these technologies are perfectly safe.
The common arguments for ensuring their safety usually revolve around:
- The logical fallacy that because the radiation dose is below arbitrary ANSI standards for annual radiation risk, then they are perfectly safe for use by passengers.
- The logical fallacy that because one receives more radiation from the act of flying itself, the scanners are perfectly safe for use.
The Science of X-ray & Millimeter Wave Technology
Backscatter machines produce low-energy X-rays, which have a wavelength on the order of 1×10-10 meters. The evidence of negative health effects of x-rays is pretty well accepted at this point, as evidenced by the EU’s ban on all airport x-ray scanners.
Health effects of millimeter wave scanners, however, still seem to be debated. These devices produce microwaves with wavelengths that fall exactly between 10-4 meters (1 millimeter) and 10-3 meters (10 millimeters). Notice where that lands in the image above. Yep…right around the microwave spectrum. Interesting that they decided to call them millimeter wave scanners as opposed to microwave scanners. Might the name “Microwave Scanners” immediately raised concern? Amazing what the power of a little terminology can do.
The thought is that such long wavelengths don’t affect proteins and DNA in eukaryotes (like us humans) and only have a thermal effect on tissue since it is in the “non-ionizing” class of radiation.
But what if they do impact DNA?
The power density of millimeter wave scanners fall between 10-8 and 10-7 W/cm2, which seems pretty insignificant until you read this paper which shows that millimeter waves at power densities as low as 10-11 W/cm2 have an effect on DNA, RNA, & proteins.
Research Study Results
- for the full story CLICK HERE