Installation of Full Body Scanners in the Airports

Posted: November 28th, 2013





Installation of Full Body Scanners in the Airports

Since the United States of America entered into war, security concerns have been on an all time high calling for the improvement of security measures across all fronts. It is the duty and responsibility of the homeland security department as well as one of its measures to install full body scans at all the major airport terminals. However, the installation of full body scans has been typified by controversies. Airports should be allowed to use scanners allowing the airport security personnel to view a traveler’s body contributing to the wider role of alleviating security threats.

A full body scanner is a gadget used for the detection of concealed objects. This is accomplished through the creation of a three dimensional image an individual that includes detailed body contours. The technology has proven successful in detecting contraband concealed under an individual’s attire. The scanners are currently produced on two types. The first is the millimeter wave scanners, and backscatter scanners. The first utilizes radio waves comprising of very high frequencies in the image processing process. The latter utilizes high-energy rays that tend to scatter in face of solid obstructions along their paths in the image processing process. The scanners have proved they are able to strip away any attire worn by an individual in the processing of a naked representation of the individual. The ability of the technology in processing nude representation of an individual has been the subject of controversy in the installation of these gadgets.

One of the pivotal significance of a full body scan installation in the airport is the role it plays in security. The recent action by the authorities to take up drastic measures cannot be in any way termed as uncalled for. The attacks by the terrorist groups in staging the most devastating terrorist attack in history using the airlines can never be overstated. With this regard, the prevention of another attack through the improvement of the airport security is indeed a matter of national importance. The full body scanner greatly enhances airport security as it helps reveal hidden weapons and bombs. Past airport security measures involved frisking and the use of metal detectors. The first is flawed in that it is hard to identify gadgets hidden at certain parts of the body such as the private parts and the latter cannot detect dangerous weapons such as plastic bombs. However, tests using full body scanners indicate that the gadget can reveal weapons hidden in any part of the body and even plastic weapons. This aspect also plays the role of rendering it harder for terrorists to carry out attacks using the airlines. Security chiefs have often reiterated that it is impossible to come up with a security measure that is one hundred percent effective. However, the gadget renders is more difficult for persons carry weapons into the airlines. With this regard, the more difficult it is to perform a certain activity, the fewer people who are going to pass with weapons let alone attempt.  These scanners also act as a larger security strategy aimed at alleviation terrorist threats. Single technologies cannot hamper terrorists from entering with dangerous weapons onto planes. With this regard, the scanners do not act as cure-alls for security breaches but instead act as part of a broader strategy in maintaining security in the airlines.

The second important reason for the installation of full body scanners is that they are healthy and safe. This is highly in contradiction to recent reports that they tend to be unsafe as they increase chances of cancer and are a threat to pregnant women. The inception of the full body scanners in the United States airports was met with concerns about the potential health threats posed by the gadget since the technology uses radiations. However, a conclusive study on the health aspects of the technology alleviates this fear. The fear that the technology can result into cancer due to the emitted radiations is called for but only speculative. This study indicates that the amount of radiation that an individual is exposed to by the technology is just but a small fraction in comparison of the radiation one experiences in everyday living. In fact, the radiation amounts to about three to nine minutes of what people are exposed to through their everyday living. According to the article published in the journal of Archives of Internal Medicine, the researches indicate that the radiations that airline passengers are exposed to are “extremely small.”

On an average year, an American citizen is exposed to close to six point two millisieverts of radiation. When the same individual makes a visit to the doctor, uses a phone or walks in exposed sunlight the individual is exposed to 0.01 millisieverts per minute. The data collected by the report from the National Council of Radiation and Measurements indicates that an air line passenger who goes past a full body scan is exposed to a mere 0.03-0.1 millisieverts per scan. In order to put this figures into perspective, an individual would have to be examined by a full body scan about one thousand times for him to have the same exposure as that of a hospital X-ray or and at least four thousand times to get the same exposure of radiation of a mammogram. The report further indicates that the airline passengers tend to be exposed by far greater radiations when they are traveling up in the skies. The virtue of flying high in the atmosphere and exposure to cosmic rays bombardment, a normal six hour flight ends up exposing the passenger to 14.3 millisieverts of radiation. This figure is close to one hundred and fifty times more than what the passenger is exposed to by going through a full body scanner. The scanners ought not to be removed because the health risks are indeed trivial. If the scan is rendered a health risk, then it would be wiser to terminate entire flights since it is the flight themselves that expose the passengers to dangerous radiations.

In refutation, those who oppose the installation of full body scanners in the air line system often site infringement of their right to privacy. The homeland security is now facing litigation as lobby groups and advocates are suing the department of homeland security to halt the installation of full body scanners at the airports. The full body scanners utilize X-rays or radio frequency energy for imaging in the detection of weapons and explosives. This has the effect of revealing images of what lies beneath the passenger’s clothing. The antagonist highlight that the technologies creates a slightly blurred but accurate image of the passenger’s morphology. This is termed as an image of the individual’s naked body and depicted as a “digital strip search.’’. This is cited a as a gross violation of the Privacy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The antagonists also cite that the technology goes further to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, citing the religious laws pertaining to modesty. The full body scans renders the passengers to undergo an invasive search. With this regard, the antagonists are opting for a choice for the passengers to either opt for a pat-down or undergo a metal detector screening.

In conclusion, we find that the installation of full body scanners in airports is a necessity. The underlying motive is not to view an individual’s nude body but to alleviate security threats in view of the fact that the nation is now at war. The gadget has proven successful in identifying concealed objects and contrabands hidden beneath a person’s clothing. This has the overall effect of enhancing security at the airports. The fears that the technology brings about health concerns has been recently put to rest by the report published by the journal of Archives of Internal Medicine. The report from the National Council of Radiation and Measurements indicates that the scanners expose the passengers to minimal radiations in comparison to what we all expose us to in our daily living. The refutation based on the privacy concerns cannot fully sustain the removal of these scanners from the airports.

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