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Radiation Safety Group Says Naked Body Scanners Increase Risk Of Cancer


An influential international radiation safety organization has warned that the naked body scanners currently being rolled out in airports across the world increase the risk of cancer and birth defects and should not be used on pregnant women or children.

Despite governments claiming that backscatter x-ray systems produce radiation too low to pose a threat, the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety concluded in their report that governments must justify the use of the scanners and that a more accurate assessment of the health risks is needed.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, according to the report, adding that governments should consider “other techniques to achieve the same end without the use of ionizing radiation.”

“The Committee cited the IAEA’s 1996 Basic Safety Standards agreement, drafted over three decades, that protects people from radiation. Frequent exposure to low doses of radiation can lead to cancer and birth defects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” reports Bloomberg.

Despite the fact that the level of radiation the passenger is exposed to is relatively low, repeated exposure for frequent flyers would undoubtedly increase cancer risks.

The report issued by the IACRS encompasses the work of the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.

As we have highlighted, not only do the body scanners pose health risks but they also violate the fundamental human right of the innocent to be protected against strip-searches.

Despite official denials that the images produced by the devices show details of genitalia, journalists who have investigated trials of the technology have reported that details of sexual organs are “eerily visible”.

Indeed, as we have previously highlighted, when the scanners were first introduced at Australian airports in 2008 it was admitted that the X-ray backscatter devices don’t work properly unless the genitals of people going through them are visible. “It will show the private parts of people, but what we’ve decided is that we’re not going to blur those out, because it severely limits the detection capabilities,” said Melbourne Airport’s Office of Transport Security manager Cheryl Johnson.

Attempts to keep this under wraps by lying about the images produced are an effort to head off challenges to the legality of the devices. Historically, civil lawsuits where an individual has been strip searched by a member of the opposite sex have proven to be successful in North America.

Courts have consistently found that strip searches are only legal when performed on a person who has already been found guilty of a crime or on arrestees pending trial where a reasonable suspicion has to exist that they are carrying a weapon. Subjecting masses of people to blanket strip searches in airports reverses the very notion of innocent until proven guilty.

Barring people from flying and essentially treating them like terrorists for refusing to be humiliated by the virtual strip search is a clear breach of the basic human right of freedom of movement.



February 5, 2010
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