In a post about body scanners last month, I noted that the health effects of these machines has been a "muted part of the debate." The issue just got less muted. NPR is reporting that a group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, has raised concerns over the health effects of backscatter X-ray body scanners, which is one of the two types being deployed (the other being millimeter wave). The scientists' concerns over backscatter are disputed by the TSA and others, and we at the ACLU do not pretend to be scientists. But, the scientists' brief letter (PDF), which they sent on April 6 to President Obama's science advisor John P. Holdren, is worth looking at.
The scientists' concerns are:
Ultimately, the scientists conclude that "there is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations," and that the "potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted."
The scientists conclude their letter:
We urge you to empower an impartial panel of experts to reevaluate the potential health issues we have raised before there are irrevocable long-term consequences to the health of our country. These negative effects may on balance far outweigh the potential benefit of increased detection of terrorists.