Europe bans airport X-ray scanners

European Union finds security scanners a health risk

The European Union banned the use of X-ray body scanners in European airports on Nov. 14, determining the risk to public health to be too great.

The move signifies a parting of ways with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which has installed hundreds of the scanners in American airports since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—known as the Underwear Bomber—failed to set off metal detectors with the explosives hidden in his underwear on Christmas Day 2009, according to ProPublica. Although the radiation levels emitted by the scanners are very low, several studies have determined scanning hundreds of millions of passengers a year would likely result in a small number of cancer cases.

European countries will continue use of alternative body scanners—known as millimeter-wave scanners—that have not been linked to cancer. The U.S. will deploy about 1,800 of both kinds of scanners within the next three years in an attempt to cover nearly every domestic airport.