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Article posted Nov 16 2011, 3:18 PM Category: Science/Technology Source: Scientific American Print

Europe Bans X-Ray Body Scanners Used at U.S. Airports

By Michael Grabell and ProPublica

The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners [1] in European airports, parting ways with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which has deployed hundreds of the scanners as a way to screen millions of airline passengers for explosives hidden under clothing.

The European Commission, which enforces common policies of the EU's 27 member countries, adopted the rule “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”

As a ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation detailed earlier this month [2] , X-ray body scanners use ionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and cause cancer. Although the amount of radiation is extremely low, equivalent to the radiation a person would receive in a few minutes of flying, several research studies have concluded that a small number of cancer cases would result from scanning hundreds of millions of passengers a year.

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