The TSA says it made the decision not because of safety concerns but to speed up checkpoints at busier airports. The X-ray scanners are being moved to smaller airports.
X-ray scanners emit a small dose of ionizing radiation, which at higher levels has been linked to cancer. Experts worry about the calibration of these machines and the many medical unknowns connected to their use.
In addition, the machines produce images of passengers' naked bodies. Each image must be reviewed by a TSA officer.
If passengers refuse to be X-rayed, they must submit to an invasive physical pat down -- called groping by many -- by a TSA officer of uncertain qualifications. (Luggage theft has drastically increased as the number of TSA agents examining suitcases has increased.)
The replacement machines, known as millimeter-wave scanners, rely on low-energy radio waves similar to those used in cell phones, according to ProPublica.
The X-ray scanner looks like two blue refrigerator-sized boxes. The millimeter-wave scanner looks like a round glass booth. More here.
- Full Body Scanners Rolling Out at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports
- Opt Out of Airport Scanners, TSA Groping
- TSA Airport Scanner Tests Show More Radiation than Expected
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