By Dr. Mercola –
(Partial Re-Print — visit www.mercola.com for the full article)
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) claims that backscatter scans are safe. But how do medical professionals personally feel about it?
Many doctors don’t opt out of the scans. Dr. Drew Pinsky calls the amount of radiation “inconsequential.” However, some researchers question whether the manufacturers’ measurements are valid — the exposure to radiation may actually be 10 times more than what the manufacturers claim.
And Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, takes a pat-down instead of going through a scanner when he travels. Brawley’s deputy, Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, has the same opinion.
According to CNN:
“Lichtenfeld says it doesn’t necessarily give him great comfort that the TSA says the scans are safe. ‘I can still remember getting my feet radiated as a child when I went to the shoe store and they had a machine which could see how my foot fit in the new shoes,’ he says. ‘We were told then that they were safe, and they were not.'”
Dr. Mercola’s Comment:
The issues associated with the use of so-called “naked body scanners” at airport security checks across the US and other countries have not let up, although most mainstream media have dropped the topic. For example, Governor Jesse Ventura filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) back in January, claiming the advanced pat-downs violated his privacy, his 4th Amendment right, and legally meet ‘the definition for an unlawful sexual assault’.” Although these privacy violations are indeed troublesome, from my perspective as a physician, the issue of whether or not the “backscatter” scanners (which use ionizing radiation) are in fact safe takes precedence. And there are still gaping holes where solid scientific data should be.
Safety Studies Still Lacking… Why?
For starters, although this screening method was mandated back in February of 2009, no one has as of yet conducted any real safety studies—a fact recently pointed out by John Sedat, a biochemistry and biophysics professor, in an interview with WIRED magazine:
“[T]he airport scanners penetrate to about skin level. That means there is a high concentration of radiation on a single organ — the skin — which was not accounted for in the Johns Hopkins report,” Sedat said.
“The “correct way” to test any such technology is to use mice and appropriate tissue-culture cells and see if there is a biological response. That kind of stuff has never been done,” he said.” The Johns Hopkins report he’s referring to was done by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and published in October 2009. It’s still the leading and most often-cited study concluding that the scanners are medically safe. But there are still plenty of disagreements within the scientific and medical community about the veracity of these claims. And the fact that no biological tests have been performed is certainly disconcerting when you consider that these machines have now been deployed for two years. Personally, as a very frequent air traveler, I ALWAYS opt out of the scanner. Because even if the radiation dose is minute (and that’s IF), I’m not willing to risk my health by exposing my entire body to minute doses on a regular basis.
Dr. Eric –
I recommend you read the rest of this article. It helps you understand that you are at the whim of what is around you. The notion that it is all safe, because how would THEY let them do it if it wasn’t. Is as false as false can be.
If a new chemical is introduced to the market, the testing for safety of that chemical is largely in the hands of the producer, and for the most point it is relegated to time on the market will determine its safety. We do so many things poorly when it comes to our health, this is just one more. My wife got patted down heading to New Orleans… and she didn’t mind it much more than a bit :-)
Be well – Dr. E