Airport scanners are an 'extremely low' source of radiation exposure that poses virtually no health risk, not even to frequent air travellers, say US researchers.
The study may help ease fears of uneasy travellers already spooked by reports of radiation leaking from the crippled nuclear plants in Japan.
"There is such a vast difference between super-low doses of radiation and the really high doses that happen if you are in the middle of a nuclear accident," says Dr Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a radiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, whose study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"Because they are all called radiation, we are tempted to put them all in the same category. That is a mistake."
She says the nuclear situation in Japan has heightened fear about radiation, but she says a person would have to get more than 50 airport scans to get as much radiation exposure as one gets from a dental x-ray.
"When used properly, the doses from these machines are extremely low," says Smith-Bindman.
Some travellers and airline crews have expressed concerns about being repeatedly exposed to radiation from the body scanners, which the US Transportation Security Administration has deployed to detect banned items on passengers. There are plans to use the scanners in Australian airports.
Only one type of full-body airport scanner - the backscatter x-ray machine - expose individuals to ionising radiation such as that used in common medical x-rays.
Source - abc.net.au.