X-rays get the ax

TSA replaces X-ray scanners with safer models in busy airports

The Transportation Security Administration has been removing X-ray body scanners from major airports across the country and replacing them with reportedly safer millimeter wave scanners.

“Backscatter” X-ray units have been replaced at Boston Logan International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Orlando and John F. Kennedy in New York, according to ProPublica. While the TSA maintains the switches were made to speed up passenger processing, not a result of safety concerns, far fewer passengers will be exposed to radiation as the X-ray units are moved to smaller airports. The TSA’s move to install the X-ray machines—following the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009—was criticized by health advocates because they emit small doses of radiation, which has been linked to cancer at high levels.

The United States is one of the only countries in the world to use X-ray scanners for passenger screening. Last year, the European Union banned their use due to health concerns.