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Body Scanners

A 1998 safety panel was reassured X-ray body scanners wouldn’t see widespread use. Today, despite having a safer alternative that the U.S. government deems highly effective, the TSA is marching millions of airline passengers through the scanners, parting ways with European countries that concluded radiation from routine airport use poses a health risk. More »

While X-ray body scanners used in airports face concerns about potentially increasing cancer cases, a safer type of scanner has been plagued by another problem: a high rate of false alarms.More »

Researchers raise the disturbing possibility that body scanners are performing far less well than the TSA contends. More »

U.S. law enforcement agencies are exposing people to radiation in more settings and in increasing doses to screen for explosives, weapons and drugs. More »

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  updates since last visit

TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners from Airports

The Transportation Security Administration will remove all X-ray body scanners from airports because privacy software couldn’t be developed on time. The scanners had been the subject of a ProPublica investigation into their safety.

The Inactivation of the Body Scanners

Everything you always wanted to know about the TSA's body scanners — and why many of them have been warehoused.

What Kind of Body Scanner Does Your Airport Have?

Nearly 100 backscatter scanners were removed from major airports recently to speed up lines. See if they're still in use at your airport.

TSA to Commission Independent Study of X-Ray Body Scanners

The Transportation Security Administration will have the National Academy of Sciences study the health effects of X-ray body scanners used in airports. But how much will the study reveal?

TSA X-Ray Body Scanners Sit Idle in Warehouse

The Transportation Security Administration removed X-ray body scanners from major airports, planning to shift them to smaller airports. But many of the backscatters sit in a warehouse as the agency looks into whether the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, falsified software tests.

TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports

The Transportation Security Administration has been removing its X-ray body scanners from LAX, O'Hare and JFK, and putting them in less-busy airports. The X-ray machines have faced criticism over radiation and privacy.

Senators’ Bill Calls for Independent Study of Airport Scanners

Drive-by Scanning: Officials Expand Use and Dose of Radiation for Security Screening

From prisons to borders to the streets of New York, law enforcement officials are using X-ray scanners on people more often and with higher doses of radiation.

Bill Would Require Independent Study of X-Ray Body Scanners

Sen. Susan Collins is planning to introduce a bill that would require the TSA to conduct a new, independent health study of the X-ray body scanners used to screen airline passengers for explosives at airports.

Invasion of the Body Scanners: They’re Spreading, But Are They Safe and Effective?

One type of scanner uses X-rays, and ProPublica and PBS NewsHour revealed questions about whether it might increase cancer cases. But a safer type of scanner has its own problems. ProPublica investigated the biggest change to airport security since the metal detector.

Scanning the Scanners: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Just How Good Are the TSA’s Body Scanners?

While the Transportation Security Administration says that airport body scanners are highly effective at detecting explosives hidden underneath clothing, some studies and a congressman briefed on classified research suggest the machines could miss carefully concealed plastic explosives.

Sweating Bullets: Body Scanners Can See Perspiration as a Potential Weapon

One type of airport body scanner deployed by the Transportation Security Administration has raised health concerns, but a safer type has registered such high false-alarm rates that Germany and France have nixed it.

Coffee, Tea or Cancer? Almost Half of Americans Oppose X-ray Body Scanners

A new Harris poll conducted for ProPublica shows that even if X-ray body scanners would prevent terrorists from smuggling explosives onto planes, 46 percent of Americans still oppose using them because they could cause a few people to eventually develop cancer.

Body Scanners: The Story So Far

Senator Seeks Answers on X-Ray Body Scanners

In letters to the Transportation Security Administration, Senator Susan Collins asked why the agency backed off its promise to conduct a new safety study of the X-ray machines, and recommended larger signs to advise pregnant women they can request a pat-down instead.

TSA Puts Off Safety Study of X-ray Body Scanners

After promising an independent evaluation of X-ray body scanners, the head of the TSA now says he’ll put it off pending an inspector general report on the machines.

Europe Bans X-Ray Body Scanners Used at U.S. Airports

The European Union has prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners, which emit low levels of a type of radiation shown to cause cancer.

TSA to Conduct New Study of X-Ray Body Scanners

The head of the TSA testified today that the agency will perform a new, independent study on the safety of X-ray body scanners after senators at a hearing raised questions about a ProPublica investigation.

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners

A 1998 safety panel was reassured X-ray body scanners wouldn't see widespread use. Today, despite having a safer alternative that the U.S. government deems highly effective, the Transportation Security Administration is marching millions of airline passengers through the scanners, parting ways with

New Army Study Says Radiation From Airport Body Scanners Is Minor

The backscatter X-ray scanners, which the Transportation Security Administration uses to check for objects hidden under clothing, have been the subject of controversy about how safe they are and whether they create a cancer risk for the traveling public.

TSA Airport Scanners Wouldn’t Catch an Implant Bomber

Intelligence reports suggest terrorists may try to avoid airport security scanners by implanting explosive devices, and the Transportation Security Administration said that passengers flying to the United States may notice additional security measures.

Scientists Cast Doubt on TSA Tests of Full-Body Scanners

The Transportation Security Administration is confident that its full-body X-ray scanners are medically safe, but a group of scientists with expertise in cancer and radiation say the evidence made public to support those safety claims is unreliable.

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