Getting though the airport may have been riskier than we thought…

The European Union banned the use of “full body scanners” which use x-rays, because of a safety concern. All countries that are part of the European Union, 27 in total, will cease to use the backscatter scanners, “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety”. This is according to a press release from the European Commission.

Although the consensus among radiation experts and medical physicists is that the scanners emit such a low level of radiation, that they don’t pose any real health risks. Apparently, a traveler would have to undergo more than 1,000 scans in one year’s time just to equal the effective dose of one standard chest x-ray. This is according to theAmericanCollegeof Radiology in a statement from last year.

A review published in the Archives of internal Medicine in March found that while backscatter scanners pose no significant radiation threat, deployment of whole-body scanners should not proceed in the absence of definitive studies to determine more precisely the risks and benefits.

While there will still be scanning done at the airports, but by the millimeter wave scanners. These use radio waves instead of x-rays, and give the reviewer a sharper image. Kelly Classic, a health physicist at the Mayo Clinic, explains that the millimeter wave scanner could show an image of a Tic-Tac in a pocket, while the backscatter would just show an image of a small object in the pocket that’s inconsistent with the lining of the pocket.

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