Full body scanners are now part of the gaunlet of security of international air travel. There are three types of these scanners. First is the metal detector. The second uses radio waves, having no risk of radiation exposure. The third other form is a type of xray (aka backscatter manufactured Rapiscan) and delivers a dose of ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is powerful enough to strip electrons off atoms and damage DNA.
In 2011, the European Commission banned scanners that use X-ray technology “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”
US Authorities are saying that compared to a chest xray the radiation exposure is miniscule. However, the Transportation Security Administration has received some many lawsuits concerning the nude images the xray machine produces that it has been deemed to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Rapiscan XRay Scanners were scheduled to be discontinued in June 2013
In Canada, we will be using Millmeter Wave Scanners which emit only nonionizing radiation. In January 2010, Transport Canada confirmed that 44 scanners had been ordered, to be used in secondary screening at eight Canadian airports. Scanners are currently in use at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Montréal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Calgary International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, and Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
It’s Health Canada’s position that ” the millimetre-wave scanners do not pose a risk to human health and safety” and that “only a small portion of the Radio Frequency energy transmitted by the device is absorbed within a thin layer (1 mm) of the body’s surface.”
Essentially, the millimeter scanners are mild microwave ovens.
I am concerned about the cumulative effect of xray radiation on the body and always choose the physical pat down. I’ll be using the same strategy with the Millimeter Scanners.