DHS to re-examine possible health effects of backscatter X-ray
The Homeland Security Department is asking the National Academy of Sciences to find an independent group to study whether airport backscatter X-ray security scanners pose any health risk.
In a notice published Dec. 13 on FedBizOpps, DHS asks the academy to convene a committee to report on whether exposure to ionizing radiation from the machines complies with health and safety standards, and whether adequate procedures are in place to prevent overexposure to travelers and operators.
The committee will review earlier studies as well as examine what DHS and equipment manufacturers have done to estimate radiation exposure.
The notice does not include any deadlines for convening the committee or producing findings.
The Transportation Safety Administration has said several studies, including by the Food and Drug Administration, the Army Public Health Command and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, found the advanced imaging technology systems to be safe, notes the New York Times.
But those studies haven't appeased critics, the Times notes, in part because some of the reports have been heavily redacted for security reasons.
A study published earlier this year by researchers at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., found that doses of radiation delivered to organs by the scanners are within established health standards, according to an announcement from the university. The researchers based their calculations on information available in a government-funded study.
Last year the European Commission banned use of backscatter X-ray scanners at European airports, citing questions over possible ill effects of radiation exposure.