Imablog Perspectives of a Canadian in the Old/Deep/New/Geographic South: This is where I ramble on about nothing in particular and post a few nice pictures.

New airport passenger x-ray screeners

An Associated Press article in today's Post and Courier grabbed my interest today. It's about a new airport passenger screening device that uses scattered x-rays to detect weapons and explosives.

AFAIK, many states prohibit the use of radiation on people unless it's for medical purposes. I'm sure that someone will manage to get an exception for these types of machines given time. There are still ethical issues with exposing masses of people to radiation, no matter how low the dose. Most people are paranoid enough about radiation (mostly because of lack of knowledge). Now the TSA wants to unecessarily irradiating hundres of thousands of people with low, but not trivial radiation doses just to get on an airplane?

I smell much controversy coming up if the TSA gets their way with these units.

3 Comments

Posted by
dampeoples
26 June 2003 @ 4PM

So just how dangerous is this? And what will this do to the people with, uh, weird piercings or pacemakers, etc?


Posted by
Eugene
27 June 2003 @ 8AM

Without knowing more details about the unit itself, it's hard to say how dangerous it is. But probably not very. For the casual vacation/leisure passenger, my guess is that the extra radiation dose is probably less than what they'd get from background radiation for a cross-country flight. Frequent fliers will get a little more dose. People with implants/piercings won't have anything to worry about, unless there's a paranoid person doing the screening who decides it could be suspicious.

What does concern me is that if these things see widespread implementation, now we'll be irradiating a much much larger population, which runs counter to the main principle in radiation safety, ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable).

I'm probably over-reacting some, but personally I'm against any man-made radiation exposure unless it is medically necessary.


Posted by
Eugene
27 June 2003 @ 4PM

Well, seems the story made it to Slashdot. I guess they found my submission on the topic not interesting enough to post.

Having read through most of the comments, I recommend not paying too much attention to some of the science and technical information people have posted.


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