Airport X-Ray Scanner Radiation No Big Deal, Say Scientists

The topic of overexposure to radiation via airport X-ray scanners comes up from time to time, mostly by frequent fliers concerned for their health. But in a new study out this week, scientists say travelers absorb less radiation from an airport security scan than just standing around waiting for it.

Using two scanners at the Los Angeles International airport (LAX), a traveler would have to take more than 22,500 scans in a year to be in trouble, concluded a recent test.

“We think the most important single take-away point for concerned passengers is to keep an appropriate perspective,” said Christopher Cagnon, PhD, DABR, the chief of radiology physics at UCLA Medical Center in a Travel Daily News report, adding “the effective radiation dose received by a passenger during screening is comparable to what that same passenger will receive in 12 seconds during the flight itself or from two minutes of natural radiation exposure.”The report came from a study commissioned by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), using Rapiscan Secure 1000 SP backscatter X-ray scanners, once common in major airports but removed mostly over concerns for privacy, replaced by machines that emit even less radiation.