FDA says full-body scanners are safe

Despite concerns that full-body scanners could pose serious health risks to the traveling public, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted an article on its website last week saying that the devices only present a very low risk to people.

"The dose from one screening with a general-use X-ray security screening system is so low that it presents an extremely small risk to any individual," said FDA Engineer Daniel Kassiday in the article. "A person receives more radiation from naturally occurring sources in less than an hour of ordinary living than from one screening with any general-use X-ray security system."

There are essentially two types of X-ray systems currently being utilized at airports today, millimeter wave and backscatter X-ray. The millimeter wave or ultra high-frequency wave is transmitted from two antennas simultaneously as they rotate around the body. The wave energy reflected back results in a three dimensional image of the person. With a backscatter X-ray, the radiation that reflects back from an object is used to construct a two-dimensional image of what it being scanned. The FDA says both methods are safe.

The agency has also created a webpage dedicated to providing information to the public about body scanners and separating fact from fiction. Click here to visit the page.