JAMA Logo With the increase in number of terror attacks around the globe, security checks at airports are certainly gaining a lot of importance for public safety. Experts have now evaluated the risk from full-body scanning machines in various U.S. airports and shared that air travelers need not worry about any radiation threat. The level of radiation discharged by these scanners is apparently minimal and its unclear if they have a negative impact on health.

Investigators highlight that the scans render an amount of radiation which is equal to three to nine minutes of radiation received via normal daily routine. Scientists evaluated radiation exposure among three groups of air travelers namely all flyers, frequent fliers as well as 5 year old girl frequent fliers. Experts examined the last group keeping in mind that girls are more prone to effects of radiation as compared to adults.

Authors add, “An individual would have to undergo more than 50 airport scans to equal the exposure of a single dental radiograph, 1,000 airports scans to equal the exposure of a chest radiograph, 4,000 airport scans to equal the exposure of a mammogram, and 200,000 airport scans to equal the exposure of a single abdominal and pelvic computed tomographic scan.”

These can apparently serve as a hallmark to identify the risk of breast cancer caused due to airport scanners. Scientists assume that the exposure of the scans in passengers who took 750 million flights every year is 0.1µSv. Pratik Mehta, of the University of California, Berkeley and Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco examined the potential risks of radiation among airport scanners by precisely analyzing the definite exposure.

“Based on what is known about the scanners, passengers should not fear going through the scans for health reasons, as the risks are truly trivial. If individuals feel vulnerable and are worried about the radiation emitted by the scans, they might reconsider flying altogether since most of the small, but real, radiation risk they will receive will come from the flight and not from the exceedingly small exposures from the scans.” However investigators also note that, “it would seem prudent for the TSA to permit additional testing to verify the safety of the devices.”

Experts examined the group of all flyers and observed that from 750 million flights per day by 100 million passengers, six cancers over the lifespan of these people could be due to airport scanners. They also mention that these six cancers need to be considered in the context of the 40 million cancers that can occur over the duration of their existence. For each two million 5 year old girls who weekly travel one-round trip, one extra breast cancer may develop from the scans. Yet, scientists predict that as many as 250,000 breast cancer incidences will be registered by this group over their lifetimes.

The study was published online and will appear in the July 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.