University of California at San Francisco faculty members write to John Holdren who is the Assistant to President for Science and Technology with their urgent concern about the public health threat of backscatter scanners, which are a new part of a airport passenger screening process.
Faculty members who signed the letter include doctors in biochemistry and biophysics, cancer and xray, and imaging experts. They call for a review of the scanners based on the lack of an independent safety review, and health risks to children, pregnant women, elders, and people with compromised immune systems. They write, “This is an urgent situation as these X-ray scanners are rapidly being implemented as a primary screening step for all air travel passengers. Our overriding concern is the extent to which the safety of this scanning device has been adequately demonstrated. This can only be determined by a meeting of an impartial panel of experts that would include medical physicists and radiation biologists at which all of the available relevant data is reviewed.”