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TSA Reassures Passengers About Radiation Exposure Risk

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Security checkpoint at Philadelphia International Airport. (Credit: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

Security checkpoint at Philadelphia International Airport. (Credit: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

Michelle Durham Michelle Durham
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By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After recent published reports accused TSA officials of not maintaining their scanner equipment and questioning just how much radiation one receives when going through those machines, the question remains: to just how much radiation are you exposed before you board an airplane?

TSA Spokesperson Ann Davis says the amount of radiation you would get from one of the scanners is negligible and, in the case of Philadelphia International Airport, nonexistent.

“There are two types of body scanners. There is millimeter wave and that does not emit any radiation at all. Some airports you have the scanner which emits a negligible amount equivalent to two minutes in flight.”

Temple University Hospital Medical Physicist Edmuth Chao agrees. “The typical dose for a person going through a whole body scanner is very small — about point zero one millirram. If you compare that dose to the dose you receive from flying from New York to Seattle, that dose is three milliram.”

For that reason, Chao says there really is no cause for concern. As for testing the existing machines to make sure they are operating properly, Davis says the TSA is committed to doing that.

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