Sorry, Uncle Sam, I Refuse to Be Ionized
“Don’t even think of agreeing to it,” I recently said to a friend who is a frequent flyer to the United States. I was referring to the recent announcement that Canadians traveling to our friendly neighbor will be subjected to full body scans. It’s the latest attempt to ensure aviation safety, but how safe is this ionizing procedure to the passenger?
Thirty years ago I reported in this column a shocking discovery. Some X-ray machines were exposing patients to as much as 60 times the amount of radiation needed for some procedures. X-ray equipment was often old, rarely calculated for radiation exposure, and some technologists were incompetent. The column resulted in a big crackdown by government health authorities.
Now Transport Canada reports that over 40 scanners will be installed in Canadian airports. Fortunately, all of these scanners will use millimeter-wave technology. This means travelers will be exposed to radio frequency waves that produce a three-dimensional image of a person’s body to detect hidden weapons or explosives.
Radio waves are not the same as the harmful X-ray ionizing radiation to be used in the United States.
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