Feb. 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM ET
Older generation full-body scanners deployed at the nation's airports are safe even for the most frequent travelers, according to the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general.
In a report out today, the IG says independent tests of the machines show that a passenger would have to be screened 17,000 times a year to reach the scientific community's assessment of the annual radiation dose limit. That would be the equivalent of 47 screenings on each of the 365 days of the year.
The report addresses concerns with backscatter X-ray machines. A total of 247 of them are in use at 39 airports.
The IG generally found TSA has a good program for regularly checking the scanners to make certain they're operating correctly and emitting no more radiation than necessary to function properly. They're checked every six months and whenever a unit is moved or is subjected to any maintenance action that would affect its operation. "No accidental radiation overdoses of backscatter units have ever occurred," the IG said in its report.
The report recommends, and TSA agrees, that machine operators receive more extensive training.
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