Name Date Class Professor Airport Scanners : Perfectly Safe Prior to September 11, 2001 airport security consisted of metal detectors to scan both luggage and individuals. When it tragically became apparent that this was not enough to ensure proper security the United States government started to explore additional methods to secure safety on airplanes…
By examining the commonly held myths regarding new scanning technology, it will prove that this technology is in fact safe, and can be used without concern. The events of September 11, 2001 will forever be engrained in the minds of Americans due to the extent of damage that was done. Following the attack, there was an in-depth look at what could have been done to prevent such an incident from occurring again, as well as measures to take to decrease all weapons or flammables from airplanes. A complete lockdown of carry on luggage was initiated, however this did not solve the issues, as a man placed a bomb in his shoe. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) then required shoes to be placed with carry on luggage for X-ray. At this point a man placed a bomb in his under garments in attempts to bring a plane down. The attack was unsuccessful, but proved that there were holes in the TSA’s security procedures. It took almost six years to formulate a method to properly scan all passengers and crew members. The TSA settled on two methods that allowed agents to view though the clothes as well as detecting any foreign objects. These two methods; the Back Scatter X-Ray and the Millimeter Wave Scanner both proved to fill the gaps that the traditional X-Ray and Metal Scanners had. Initially these scanners were used only in very large airports, and only used on a percentage of the population. By November 2010 TSA reported 385 scanners in 68 of the more than 5,000 paved airports in the United States.(USA Airports and Airplines) Due to increased terrorist activity, the scanners began to be deployed in large amounts. TSA’s goal was to have over 1000 full body scanners installed by the end of 2011, however by March 2012, there are approximately 640 full body scanners located in 165 of the largest airports around the United States.(Stroller) Due to the location of the scanners as well as the required increased usage, almost every flier at some point must go though a full body scanner. There have been updated to the laws regarding children, the elderly, and those handicapped, but broadly speaking, most fliers will be scanned. Due to this, many have started to question the relative immediate safety of the machines as well as long term repercussions, specifically for frequent fliers. Both scanners use radiation to look beneath the clothing of the passenger to determine if explosives are present. Among other health concerns, the most written and discussed is the effect that radiation has on the human body, and if continued exposure could have long term health effects. When first introduced widely in 2010, many were vocally concerned with the ramifications, in recent years the majority have fallen quiet, but those who are still writing are professors, doctors, and other experts in radiation. Dr. David Brenner the director of radiological research at Columbia Medical Center in New York recently published an article that stated the new millimeter scanners have no danger to the users, while the backscatter scanners do not do any direct damage the long term has yet to be studied.(Brenner) A corresponding article in the same publication written by Dr. David Schauer, executive director of the National Council on Radiation Protection and ...
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Brenner, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and that written by David A. Schauer, Sc.D., C.H.P., executive director of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), regarding the safety of airport security scanners.
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