Monday, 1 February 2010
In the wake of announcements that body scanners are to be used routinely in airports a television journalist today reported that there was concern over the risk of radiation. If passengers are really worried about radiation they would be well advised not to fly at all since flying increases exposure to cosmic radiation which can harm DNA and cause cancers. As one travels further from the surface of the earth the atmosphere becomes thinner and the magnetic field weaker and exposure to cosmic radiation increases. It is one of the major problems of space travel.
Thus, passengers flying at 30,000 feet in an aircraft confront a greater risk of harmful radiation than from an airport body scanner. The amount of radiation emitted by a scanner used for security purposes is negligible.
Perhaps people who have concerns should avoid areas of high natural radiation – Cornwall in the UK for example, or Yangjiang in China, Kerala in India, Guarapari in Brazil, or the area with the highest level of background radiation, Ramsar in Iran.
Doubtless the worries over body scanners will persist for as long as ill-informed reporters continue to make alarmist remarks.