Europe bans porno-scanners

The European Commission has banned the use of x-ray scanners at airports in Europe. Why?

The European Commission, which enforces common policies of the EU’s 27 member countries, adopted the rule “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”

As a ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation detailed earlier this month, X-ray body scanners use ionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and cause cancer. Although the amount of radiation is extremely low, equivalent to the radiation a person would receive in a few minutes of flying, several research studies have concluded that a small number of cancer cases would result from scanning hundreds of millions of passengers a year.

Meanwhile, we in the States continue to deploy them as if it the radiation-emitting machines make us safer. The cancers caused by the scanners are a small price to pay for the comforting security theater that we Americans so enjoy. And so, in the US, we awake to this news:

The head of the Transportation Security Administration has backed off a public commitment to conduct a new independent study of X-ray body scanners used at airport security lanes around the country….

At a Senate hearing after the story ran, TSA Administrator John Pistole agreed to a request by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to conduct a new independent study of the health effects of the X-ray scanners, also known as backscatters.

But at a Senate hearing of a different committee last week, Pistole said he had since received a draft report on the machines by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, or IG, that might render the independent study unnecessary.

“My strong belief is those types of machines are still completely safe,” Pistole said. “If the determination is that this IG study is not sufficient, then I will look at still yet another additional study.”

According to a summary obtained by ProPublica, the inspector general concluded the machines are within industry standards for radiation exposure limits. But the summary also suggests the report focuses mostly on how the TSA monitors and maintains the machines. The full report won’t be released for several weeks.

I feel safer than ever from both terrorist attack and the dangers of x-ray radiation. Don’t you? I thought so.