US expert hits back at claims of 'safe' full-body airport scanners

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 12, 2010 12:50 hrs

An American professor has hit back at the US Government's claim that full-body scanners at airports do not pose a health risk to travellers.

Dr. John Sedat, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), said that a government statement supporting full-body x-ray safety had "many misconceptions".

A statement from the White House's Office of Science and Technology had said that the potential health risks from full-body screening "are minimal".

However, Dr. Sedat warned that radiation from the devices has been dangerously underestimated and could lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.

"The dose of radiation delivered to the skin may be dangerously high," quoted Dr. Sedat, as saying.

"If the key data were available it would be straightforward to accurately model the dose being deposited in the skin and adjacent tissued using available computer codes," he added.

The scanners were recently unveiled at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to help security officials to better detect weapons and explosives.

The Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines give screeners an X-ray-like image beneath clothing to look for dangerous materials, including plastics.

It can easily spot any non-metal objects hidden on the passenger's body that would not be detected by the old-style scanners.

According to reports, over 300 airports in the US will be equipped with these machines this year. (ANI)