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Europe is still ahead of us over here!

Cole Parker

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Europe Bans Airport X-Ray Body Scanners Amid Cancer Concerns

By Natalie Wolchover, Life's Little Mysteries Staff Writer

16 November 2011 3:41 PM ET



X-ray body scans. Credit: TSA.gov

The European Union announced this week that it has banned the use of X-ray body scanners in all European airports "in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens' health and safety." Research shows that the X-ray scanners, which use low-level radiation to screen airline passengers for hidden explosives, slightly increase their risk of getting cancer.

The same scanners will continue to be used in the United States, according to the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA's stance is that the scanners meet its safety standards. // //

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This is good news. I'll be glad to see the concerns about the dangers of backscatter radiation continue to be publicized and those scanners sent to the scrapyard as quickly as possible. Aside from all of the obvious privacy and personal liberty concerns, the data on the simple negative health effects of backscatter x-rays is more and more convincing. Already, TSA agents are at a considerably higher risk of various cancers than the general population. Frequent flyers should also be concerned if you go through those things regularly.

Here in Canada, most of the larger cities have them, the medium and smaller cities not so much.

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[ sarcasm ]

An Immodest Proposal

They could greatly simplify it and be much more secure. It's very easy. It's even fair. Simple: Everyone, male, female, old, young, handicapped or not, regardless of presumed ethnicity, religion, body weight, sexual orientatin, etc., etc. -- Everybody line up, take off all your clothes and put 'em in a bin, turn around so everyone else can see what you've got, then dress again. It might be mildly entertaining in some cases. Or a tad unnerving in others. Or perhaps it might encourage diet and exercise. Or a certain egalitarianism. Heck, it might even start a cross-country romance or two. Plus, it could be educational for the youngsters. Nudists wouldn't mind a bit. Those who do mind, well, surely you want to be patriotic and surely you don't have something to hide! Besides, you know, your privacy and intimate bits. Oh, come on, Ethel and Earl, it'll be fun! You'll see! Why just look at Mabel and Bubba and little Jack and Jill over there, see how safe and secure and patriotic they are?

[/ sarcasm ]

Yes, they ran a wand over my 99 year old grandmother a few years ago. Yes, they looked askance at my digital camera and laptop and cell phone. Thankfully, nobody groped me or made me take off my clothes...besides my belt and shoes and watch and ring. Yes, it was all kind of silly. We were going from Texas to Oklahoma and back. Really, I've never thought my relatives there were that bad a sort. Maybe not always my favorites, now and then, but generally, I like them. Certainly, I've never thought Oklahoma or Texas were particularly threatening to my sense of well being and security.

I'm not really going to promise everybody has to get au naturel at the airport, though I guess skyclad would fit the theme.... I'd just rather we returned to a sense of reasonableness about it all, an assumption that not everyone is guilty or paranoid or a threat to life and limb. Not 99 year old grandmothers or little kids or guys in wheelchairs. Yes, I fully understand there can be covers and people with intent to do harm. But I'd much rather the security people use their resources to concentrate on the real risks than waste time and effort on innocent bystanders, the vast majority of travelers.

[ sarcasm ]

Or they could have audience participation, everyone doing their civic duty to chip in and save work. Here, everyone in Line A pats down their neighbor in Line B, and then Line B pats down Line A. Now see how civic minded, neighborly and friendly that is? Don't we all feel better already?

See, Mr. Peterson and Ms. Paulson feel much better! Why, just look how friendly they are!

Young Johnny and Jimmy seem to be all smiles too!

Say, old widow Macpherson hasn't looked that chipper in twenty years. But that young college lad seems a bit uncomfortable. Can't imagine why. We're one big happy, after all.

[/ sarcasm ]

Sorry, I'm just feeling cranky!

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