NPR interviewed several scientists who are concerned about the increases in airport security designed to thwart terrorists. Specifically, they argue that the radiation from X-ray back-scatter scanners used to peer beneath passengers clothing may cause chromosomal damage.
This is a fear induced by these peoples belief in the no-threshold theory of radiation damage, says Dr. Ross. What these theories fail to realize or simply ignore is that we re all exposed to ionizing radiation continuously from the Earth and the atmosphere, without any adverse health effects. NPR even explains that, using the government s radiation dose calculations, it would take 5,000 trips through one of the back-scatter scanners to equal the dose of a single chest X-ray. And they ask if the risk is overstated. Yes, it is.
For more information, see ACSH s publication The Health Effects of Low-Level Radiation.