You do raise an interesting point regarding the actual amount of radiation exposure from the TSA scanners. I agree with you and think that it would be completely irresponsible for our government to condone the use of radiation on innocent folks every day if there was any chance that it could be more harmful than we have been led to believe. That being said, I have read some information from both sides of the issue, and as a physician, I can honestly say that I am not the least bit worried about the radiation received during the scanning process. If we were to suppose that the TSA calculations were off by a factor of 10, the amount of radiation exposure received would still be quite small compared to other sources and in my opinion, no cause for concern. Again, this is just my opinion.
I am definitely not an expert and I am happy to admit that you probably have much more experience than I in dealing with radiation safety (I am completely serious about that). I am merely approaching the topic from the standpoint of radiation exposure that I am familiar with, e.g. a standard chest x-ray. That radiation must penetrate deep enough to shoot completely through the entire body to a plate on the other side. It also shoots partially through more solid structures like bones. This requires a very short pulse of high energy radiation. A CT scan exposes the patient to dozens of times as much radiation as a chest x-ray, and fluoroscopy sometimes even more. Having seen thousands of patients exposed to sometimes dozens of CT scans over a relatively short period of time, I am not too worried about the TSA scanners. CT scanning has been in routine clinical practice for more than 20 years and to my knowledge, there have been no substantial increases in cancer rates as a result.
Again, I did not go through the math and do any specific calculations, I am just using my general understanding of radioactivity that is used in medicine to form a very general opinion. I AM DEFINITELY NOT AN EXPERT!!! It is entirely possible that I am wrong, so please don't anyone file a lawsuit against me.
For me personally, the problem isn't so much the radiation exposure. I've been a radiation worker since the 1970's and understand the risk. But many do not understand it and then they (all of us) are presented with TSA and their management of the machines, which far too often comes across like a Three Stooges short. The TSA officers spout boilerplate phrases about the safety, and it is obvious they haven't got a clue about how the device operates nor do they possess any basic knowledge of radiation theory yet they act like they do. Hence the public fears.
While there may be no substantial increases in cancer as the result of the therapeutic or diagnostic use of radiation, there likely have been some cancers and deaths from it, although they cannot be conclusively attributed to it. It's one of those things where the public just has to trust that the government is being truthful, and that is a hard pill to swallow for many.
I'm with you Dave...Trusting that the government is being truthful is sort of like believing it when someone tells you that "The check is in the mail." We all know that that one is a total lie. Being active duty military, I have to be careful with what I say here, but suffice it to say that in my opinion, our government...well...I can't really say what I want to so I guess I will just shut up about it.
The bottom line is that you're right...it is not the radiation that is frightening, it is the possibility that the folks in charge of it don't have a clue what is really going on and are simply repeating what they are being told by the people selling them the technology.
So I guess the pat-down is the only alternative; SOME CHOICE!
Either that or the traditional metal detector. The full body scanner just happened to be the scanner they were using for the "Elite Access" line. Long story short, I had to fly cross country for my great-aunt's funeral last minute. My dad travels a lot, and my whole family was able to fly out on frequent flier miles, and because it was booked with his account, my boarding pass stated "Elite Access." This helped tremendously at the airport coming back home, which was the airport that had the full body scanner.
I did hear one story of someone wearing a wire bra, which triggered the full body scanner. The passenger had the pat down, which was done by a female TSA agent, since she was a female passenger.
2007 - Majesty of the Seas (Bahamas)
2009 - Enchantment of the Seas (Western Caribbean)
2010 - Freedom of the Seas (Western Caribbean)
2013 - Golden Princess (Alaska, roundtrip from Seattle)
So in other words...she got the worst of both worlds. That really stinks.
I don't know about you guys, but even though I don't have a problem with it, I always feel a little bit like a criminal when I am being patted down in front of all the other passengers. I guess I am thinking that they are wondering what I did wrong.
With all the radiation I've been through, I probably glow in the dark anyway When I flew to Miami in February, I just went through the normal walk through box. Guess no one wants to view an x-ray of an old woman,LOL!