Organic Consumers Association

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Lack of Studies, Questionable Safety of Full Body Airport X-Rays Continue to Raise Alarm

  For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Change page.

A dearth of studies, along with lingering questions about their safety are leading more U.S. passengers to opt out of walking through powerful backscatter X-ray machines used by Transportation Security Administration officials at some airport checkpoints.

Instead, more passengers are choosing the pat-down option, despite the TSA's horrible reputation for it, because they figure that's still safer than being exposed to the radiation emitted by the backscatter machines.

That concern was summarized by Yolanda Marin-Czachor recently in an interview with The New York Times. She told the paper she usually opted for the pat-downs before she got pregnant, but is insistent on avoiding the radiation-emitting machines altogether now.

"I had two miscarriages before this pregnancy," Marin-Czachor, 34, of Green Bay, Wis., told the paper, "and one of the first things my doctor said was: 'Do not go through one of those machines. There have not been any long-term studies. I would prefer you stay away from it.'"

In all, there are 244 of the machines in use at 36 airports around the country operating nearly non-stop, according to the TSA. Other airports use millimeter wave scanners - those which look like glass telephone booths and don't incorporate ionizing radiation - or metal detectors, the Times reported.

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