Monday, December 6, 2010

Common Sense at the Airport Body Scanner

I have just passed through the Transportation Security Administration passenger inspection routine at the Denver and Detroit airports; and I have some advice to offer my readers.

The body scanning devices being used in airports are low voltage X-rays that read the scan by backscatter from the radiation contact. They deliver about the same amount of radiation as an ordinary chest X-ray; there is a difference, however. The scanners at the airport do not deliver deeply penetrating ionizing radiation—all of the radiation is concentrated in the skin and the tissues immediately under the skin. Therefore, the radiation exposure is concentrated in that area, resulting in a significant amount of damaging radiation there—more than a chest X-ray. The scan reader sees the body in what appears to be its naked state.

The people running the scans told me that there is no ionizing radiation exposure, but they are mistaken in this matter. The scanners are X-ray machines.

In going through the airports, I have opted to have the “pat down” instead of the body scanner. That procedure was more invasive than the “wand” procedure used to check passengers who fail the metal detector test; but I did not find it to be offensive or objectionably invasive. For this reason, I recommend that my readers refuse the body scanner and have the “pat down.” My wife, also, chose to have the “pat down;” and she did not find the procedure offensive, either.

It was interesting to me that in Detroit, the airport had provided a Muslim woman to do the “pat downs” for other Muslim women. This was obviously because Muslim women are taught to demand higher levels of modesty than other women. I am fairly sure that most women feel modest, too. We seem to think in this country that Muslims deserve special privileges. Never mind the fact that if it were not for Muslims and their suicide bombs, there would not be any bomb danger in airplanes in the first place.

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