Medical Imaging Seminars – 2012

Friday May 4, 8:00pm, in Phys 137

Risks of Exposure to Ionizing and Millimeter-Wave Radiation from Airport Whole Body Scanners

Dr. John E. Moulder, Ph.D. (Medical College of Wisconsin)

Considerable public concern has been expressed around the world about the radiation risks posed by the backscatter (ionizing radiation) and millimeter-wave (nonionizing radiation) whole body scanners that have been deployed at many airports. The backscatter and millimeter-wave scanners currently deployed in the U.S. almost certainly pose negligible radiation risks if used as intended, but their safety is difficult-to-impossible to prove using publicly accessible data. The scanners are widely disliked and often feared, a problem that is made worse by a veil of secrecy that covers their specifications and dosimetry. For these and future similar technologies to be widely accepted, more openness is needed, as is independent review and regulation. Publicly-accessible, and preferably peer-reviewed, evidence is needed that the deployed units (not just the prototypes) meet widely-accepted safety standards. It is also critical that risk perception be handled more competently.