DHS’ X-ray scanners could be cancer risk to border crossers


Declan McCullagh
Cnet.com
January 16, 2012

Internal Homeland Security documents describing specifications for border-crossing scanners, which emit gamma or X-ray radiation to probe vehicles and their occupants, are raising new health and privacy concerns, CNET has learned.

Even though a public outcry has prompted Homeland Security to move away from adding X-ray machines to airports–it purchased 300 body scanners last year that used alternative technology instead–it appears to be embracing them at U.S.-Mexico land border crossings as an efficient way to detect drugs, currency, and explosives.

A 63-page set of specifications (PDF), heavily redacted, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center through the Freedom of Information Act, says the scanners must “be based on X-Ray or gamma technology,” which use potentially dangerous ionizing radiation at high energies, and “shall be capable of scanning cars, SUVs, motorcycles and busses.”

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