Europe Airports Ban US-Style Body Scanners

Radiation concerns prompt decision on X-ray devices
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 15, 2011 5:43 PM CST
A passenger walks past a sign informing travelers about the use of full-body scanners for TSA security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – The full-body airport scanners that have prompted controversy on these shores have now been banned throughout the European Union, reports ProPublica. The fracas in the US has largely been over privacy, but the EU’s decision was a matter of “health and safety,” it says. The X-ray scanners in the US use ionizing radiation, which has been linked to cancer—studies suggest a handful of cases out of hundreds of millions of passengers.

Instead, EU countries will use millimeter-wave scanners, which employ radio frequency waves and have not been linked to cancer. The TSA uses such millimeter-wave scanners, too; among the 500 scanners currently in use in the US, about half are body scanner (also known as backscatter) and half millimeter-wave. Read the full ProPublica post here or an earlier report on the health concerns here.

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