Cancer vs. Terrorists: 46% Say Scrap X-Ray Scanners

Nearly half in poll say small risk of disease isn't worth it: ProPublica

By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 7, 2011 6:45 PM CST

(Newser) – Almost half of Americans are against the use of X-ray body scanners in airports—even if they would detect terrorists with explosives—because of the low cancer risk they might pose, according to a poll conducted for ProPublica. The TSA aims to make the body scanners a common sight at virtually all airports by 2014, even as Europe has banned them. Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, wants larger warning signs posted letting travelers know they can opt for a patdown instead.

The Harris poll question: "If a security scanner existed which would significantly help in preventing terrorists from boarding a plane with powder, plastic, or liquid explosives, do you think the TSA should still use it even if it could cause perhaps six of the 100 million passengers who fly each year to eventually develop cancer?" Of the 2,198 respondents, 46% said no, 36% said yes, and 18% weren't sure. Click here for more details on the poll and possible health risks.

A passenger goes through a full-body scanner at Logan International Airport in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
A traveler goes through a body scanner at a TSA security checkpoint at Washington's Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A passenger goes through a full-body scanner at Logan International Airport in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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