Even though a public outcry has prompted Homeland Security to move away from adding X-ray machines to airports--it purchased 300 body scanners last year that used alternative technology instead--it appears to be embracing them at U.S.-Mexico land border crossings as an efficient way to detect drugs, currency, and explosives.
A 63-page set of specifications (PDF), heavily redacted, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center through the Freedom of Information Act, says the scanners must "be based on X-Ray or gamma technology," which use potentially dangerous ionizing radiation at high energies, and "shall be capable of scanning cars, SUVs, motorcycles and busses."
"Society will pay a huge price in cancer because of this," John Sedat, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco, told CNET. Sedat has raised concerns about the health risks of X-ray scanners, and the European Commission in November prohibited their use in European airports.
The specifications do not say how Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, will notify people crossing the border about the radiation emitted by the devices, how frequently the devices will be tested to ensure they're operating properly, or whether travelers will be presented with a choice of declining the scan, which is an option at airport body scanners that use X-rays.
X-ray scanners made by American Science and Engineering are already in use at the busy San Ysidro, Calif., checkpoint. CBP, which says the level of radiation emitted falls within commonly accepted norms, is planning to announce details about the next round of scanner purchases on February 1.
Unlike, say, radio waves, ionizing radiation is dangerous because it can damage living tissue, rearrange chromosomes, and raise cancer risks. Whether the radiation is harmful depends on the dose: ionizing radiation at very low doses is ubiquitous in the environment, including from cosmic radiation, radon, and high-altitude air travel. Pregnant women are especially sensitive to high doses of ionizing radiation.
"This seems to be a massive escalation in the use of these systems," says Peter Rez, a professor of physics at Arizona State University who has studied the way the X-ray scanners work.
http://epic.org/privacy/body_scanners/m ... D00002.pdf
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57358 ... r-crossers
The more radiation based cancers they cause, the more money big pharma makes and the less people will survive the treatments because the treatments are radiation based like chemo so they will get a very high "turnover" of patients and money Thank goodness the British Govt is slightly more inteligent.