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Radiation from airport scanners — How much dose we get

Washington — A new report by an independent task force commissioned by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), has found that people absorb less radiation from airport X-ray backscatter scanner than they do while standing in line waiting for the scan itself.
Measurements made on two scanners in active use at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), as well as seven other scanners not in active use at the time of measurement, found that full-body scanners deliver a radiation dose equivalent to what a standard man receives every 1.8 minutes on the ground, or every 12 seconds during an airplane flight.
Put another way, an individual would have to receive more than 22,500 scans in a year to reach the standard maximum safe yearly dose determined by the American National Standards Institute and the Health Physics Society, according to AAPM Report No. 217, “Radiation Dose from Airport Scanners.”
“This report represents a wholly independent review of the X-ray scatter airport scanners and is the first we know of to look at multiple scanners including those in actual airport use,” said Christopher Cagnon, PhD, DABR, the chief of radiology physics at UCLA Medical Center and one of the lead authors of the new report. “We think the most important single take-away point for concerned passengers is to keep an appropriate perspective: the effective radiation dose received by a passenger during screening is comparable to what that same passenger will receive in 12 seconds during the flight itself or from two minutes of natural radiation exposure.”

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