November 22, 2010
There are two types of scanners we will have to endure at the airport; the millimeter-wave scanner and the ‘backscatter’ X-ray scanner. Both emit ‘high-energy’ radiation and are dangerous.
Body scanners have revolutionized the practice of medicine and has saved many lives, but we must question the government’s mandate to have people endure high-energy radiation in a non-life-threatening situation. We must protest the use of full-body scanners on children and young adults as they are at greater-risk of developing brain tumors and cancer from these machines. Cancer and tumors especially in the young will likely increase as more body scanners are being installed on a nationwide scale. There is just no “safe” dose of radiation, 50% of America’s cancers are radiation-induced.
People with medical implants such as pace-makers should also avoid electromagnetic pulse generating body scanners as they can significantly alter the waveform of the pacemaker pulse.
The millimeter wave scanners emit a wavelength of ten to one millimeter called a millimeter wave, these waves are considered Extremely High Frequency (EHF), the highest radio frequency wave produced. EHF runs a range of frequencies from 30 to 300 gigahertz, they are also abbreviated mmW. These waves are also known as tetrahertz (THz) radiation. The force generated from tetrahertz waves is small but the waves can ‘unzip’ or tear apart double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the DNA that could interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.
Clothing and organic materials are translucent in most millimeter-wave bands. Perfect for detecting metal objects on subjects at airports, but not so great at picking up low-density materials such as plastic, chemicals or liquid which were some of the items used by the underwear bomber.
Full Body X-ray Scanners provide exceptionally clear views of subjects by combining data from multiple images, but increased exposure to X-rays can also cause mutation in DNA, leading to cancer. X-rays are considered ionizing (penetrating) radiation, ionizing radiation in any dose causes genetic mutations, which set all living cells exposed on the path to cancer. Cancers associated with high dose exposure include leukemia, breast, bladder, colon, liver, lung, esophagus, ovarian, multiple myeloma, prostate, nasal cavity/sinuses, pharyngeal, laryngeal, pancreatic and stomach cancers.
Whole body scans of healthy people will create more problems than they solve by exposing healthy people to radiation. The risk for radiation over-exposure may be small for a single subject, but the number subject exposed to airport body scans will increase the risk by the millions. A normal CT scan of the chest is the equivalent of about 100 chest X-rays. Some scanners are equivalent of 440 conventional X-rays. The traditional X-ray machine detects hard and soft materials by the variation in transmission through the target. The backscatter X-ray detects the radiation that reflects back from the target. Several studies have suggested that people have been unnecessarily exposed to radiation from CTs or have received excessive amounts of radiation. A person undergoing a backscatter scan receives approximately 0.005 – 0.009 millirems of radiation. 1 mrem per year is a negligible dose of radiation, and 25 mrem per year from a single source is the upper limit of safe radiation exposure. Widespread overuse of body scanners and variations in radiation caused by different machines could subject many to radiation doses that could ultimately lead to thousands of new cancer cases and deaths.