Full-body scanners to stay at SLO airport despite possible risks
September 24, 2012
Despite growing privacy and safety concerns over airport body scanners, the Transportation Security Administration has no plans to replace the existing devices at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
The TSA awarded two contracts last week as part of a $245 million program to test new scanners before they enter airports [California Watch].
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said the agency installed full-body scanners at the San Luis Obispo airport eight months ago and that the new program does not indicate those devices will be replaced.
“We are testing the next generation,” Melendez said.
While critics argue that the current body scanners invade individual privacy by allowing screeners to see underneath clothing, Melendez said all of the privacy issues were resolved by getting rid of remote screening rooms and making scans viewable by passengers.
Melendez also said full-body scanners pose no safety risks.
Yet, the European Union recently banned the X-ray body scanners due to concerns that they could cause cancer [Daily Mail]. And, a ProPublica investigation determined that radiation from the full-body scanners could indeed lead to cancer.
“Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. Airline passengers each year could get cancer.[ProPublica] Still, the TSA has repeatedly defined the scanners as ‘safe,’ glossing over accepted scientific view that even low doses of ionizing radiation — the kind beamed directly at the body by the X-ray scanners — increases the risk of cancer.”
Melendez said repeatedly that the scanners are safe.