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meobeou
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# Posted: 11 Jan 2019 03:48 - Edited by: meobeou
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Hi all,

While travelling back home from the UK this xmas I almost went through the full-body scanner at Birmingham Airport.
There are many lines but, as far as I could see, only one scanner.
Waiting in line for security I realized that I had been directed into the scanner line and was preparing mentally for a fight with the security drones. The airport has a "no Fry no Fly" policy so having to abandon my flight and find an alternative route home was a possible scenario.

But watching the passengers ahead of me being "processed" I saw a pattern: first you go through a metal-detector and if that goes off, then they force you through the scanner.
It takes time to instruct people how to stand inside the scanner so I guess that's why its not the default.

Of course the security drones are trained to insist that the scanners are safe and probably quote the HPA, but looking into the latest HPA/AGNIR report reveals that they haven't looked into it at all.

From page 63 in the report (link):

2.4.6.1 Full-body scanners (millimetre wave scanners)
"Both ionising and non-ionising radiations are utilised in imaging devices that are used to enhance the security screening of public places – in particular, airports. Millimetre wave body scanners operate in the extremely high frequency (EHF) region (30–300 GHz), just below the sub-millimetre range, which is known as the terahertz range. At these frequencies, the absorption of electromagnetic fields by the human body is very superficial and mainly confined to the skin area. Little information is available about technical specifications of these scanners and the levels of exposure. However, the manufacturers claim that the signals created by the scanners are thousands of times less powerful than those from other commercial RF devices such as mobile phones, wireless handsets and other standard household devices."

Ok! Wonderful! Let's just take the manufacturers word for it and carry on.
And why are they comparing terahertz radiation to mobiles etc.? Its a completely different frequency range. No words to describe this level of incompetence. I hope its by choice.

So, no studies examined. Not even the paper that proposes a theoretical model for how terahertz radiation can damage DNA:
"How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA"

According to HPA: nothing to worry about. Never mind putting millions of travellers at risk. Industry says its all good.

So advice to anyone travelling from UK where there are scanners: make absolutely sure there are no metal objects on your person when you go though security.

Henrik
Admin
# Posted: 14 Jan 2019 09:31 - Edited by: Henrik
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meobeou,

Thanks for your report.

Signs posted before the security line at the airport, state that you can opt out of full-body scanners and undergo a manual search instead.

At Birmingham airport there are at least two types of body-scanners. The ProVision types that look like a tube and ones that looks like adjacent walls that the passenger steps between.

Of course they require you to sign your conscent to the search and that they can refuse you boarding etc. etc.

If you opt out on health reasons, they'll inquire into why and there are reports of pregnant women and concerned parents with children being misinformed by security staff about the risks of electromagnetic radiation. Also reports of electro-hypersensitive people being outright harrassed.

We'd already looked at the UK AGNIR report you quote (PDF link) and also noticed that passage taking the body-scanner manufacturers assurance at face value without any investigation.

There is also a rather strange report on security scanners from The British Institute of Radiology & Royal College of Radiologists:
https://www.bir.org.uk/media/52443/bir_rcr_airport_security_scanner_report__2_.pdf

Its titled "AIRPORT SECURITY SCANNERS & IONISING RADIATION" and the authors simply state that new millimeter-wave (24–30 GHz) scanners do not emit ionizing radiation and defer to a french govt. report (AFSSET) from 2010.
That french report is reviewed here:
https://www.nap.edu/read/24936/chapter/6
and though it mentions that studies of scanner frequencies 24–30 GHz are scarce, it does add that there are possible non-thermal effects. The review notes that AFSSET then goes on to deny any effects of frequencies above 400 MHz - including oxidative stress effects.
This is most curious as the latest review on oxidative stress from radiofrequency radiation, concluded that 93% of the published studies showed evidence of oxidative stress from even low-level exposures. Most of those reviewed studies were pre-2010, so how AFSSET missed those is a mystery.

This is the trick. This is how Govt. reports manage to dismiss health effects despite all the evidence:
They list some or most of the studies but the conclusion is measured against the ICNIRP definition of "established effects" evidence threshold. So voila, any probable and possible effects are effectively filtered out.

And the conclusion is all that decision makers read. Problem solved.

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