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Cancer? No Thanks: Half Of Americans Want X-ray Body Scanners Scrapped

Poll finds travelers would rather take on terrorists than risk exposure to radiation

Steve Watson
Prisonplanet.com
December 8, 2011

A new survey has found that almost half of Americans want to see the TSA’s X-ray body scanners removed from the nation’s airports owing to concerns over potential health risks.

46% of Americans do not believe that the risks associated with the machines are worth any potential pay offs in terms of terrorism prevention.

The Harris Interactive poll, conducted for media group ProPublica, asked: “If a security scanner existed which would significantly help in preventing terrorists from boarding a plane with powder, plastic, or liquid explosives, do you think the TSA should still use it even if it could cause perhaps six of the 100 million passengers who fly each year to eventually develop cancer?”

Out of 2,198 respondents, 46% said no, 36% said yes, and 18% said that they were not sure.

The figures cited in the question originated from a peer-reviewed research paper written by a radiology and epidemiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, which was also published on the TSA’s website.

The poll was commissioned in response to the TSA’s promotion of a number of other recent surveys that have found in favor of the scanners, only where privacy issues are concerned.

The issue of body scanner safety was once again thrust into the spot light recently with the publication of a report by ProPublica, in conjunction with PBS NewsHour, detailing how the “U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns” as it rolled out the scanners into airports.

Despite promising a Senate homeland security committee hearing that the TSA would commission further independent research into the safety risks associated with full body scanners, TSA head John Pistole later reneged, suggesting that a forthcoming inspector general’s report validates earlier conclusions that the machines are not harmful.

Last month, the European Commission formally adopted guidelines prohibiting the use of X-ray body scanners utilizing ionizing radiation in European airports.

“In order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorized methods for passenger screening at EU airports.” a press release read.

The findings in the new Harris poll contrast with a recent poll that asked the same question of UK residents.

When asked ‘Do you think airport ‘strip-search’ scanners should be banned, in light of the cancer risks they could pose?’ a majority, 67%, said ‘no’. They were then asked to explain their reason for this decision, to which 54% said they would rather ‘risk their health and travel safe’, whilst a fifth, 22%, said they didn’t believe the health risks.

The British government has indicated that it will not comply with the EU directive on the scanners, and will instead continue to operate a “no scan, no fly” policy for any travelers who refuse to step through the x-ray machines when requested to do so.

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Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

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