Do Airport Scanners Alter Our DNA?

Full body scanners at airports have become a part of life for everyone who travels, but are they safe? There is some evidence that even the new body scanners may alter our DNA.

Once we remove our belts, shoes, and jackets and cast aside our earthly possessions, we are subject to internal scanning by machines that could be altering our DNA, all in the name of safety and security.

In November 2011, members of the European Union banned the use of x-ray body scanners in airports throughout the EU because of “health and safety” concerns—including damage to DNA. The exact number of cancer cases attributed to use of these scanners has been debated, with one estimate being six to 100 airline passengers per year getting cancer associated with exposure to the scanners.

Read about common food flavors linked to DNA damage.

When it was announced in January 2013 that airports in the United States would be eliminating these questionable scanners, the stated reason was not the health issue that concerned officials in other parts of the world but that experts were unable to develop congressionally mandated privacy software in time.

The old units were removed and replaced by other technology, known as millimeter wave scanners. Rather than radiation, these machines expose airline passengers to high-frequency energy particles called terahertz photons. But are these newer scanners safer than the old ones?

The TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) insists that the new technology “uses non-ionizing radio-frequency energy in the millimeter spectrum with no known adverse health effects.”

According to at least one group of researchers, that’s not the case. At the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, a group of scientists reported that terahertz waves have an ability to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”

Several decades ago, a team of Russian scientists evaluated the impact of millimeter waves on the chromatin conformational state (aka, DNA, RNA, and proteins) on animals and found that they induces “statistically significant changes” at millimeter waves similar to those used by airport scanners. The authors also noted that “such important indices as gene expression, rate of cell division as well as the rates of DNA and protein synthesis were affected” by millimeter waves.

Read about how to detox radiation naturally.

In one of the most recent reports on millimeter wave technology and airport scanners appearing in the Journal of Radiation Research and Applied Sciences, the authors noted that although such scanners are being used extensively at airport security checkpoints, “there is still an alarmingly small amount of information about its potential health effects.” Even though these scanners are believed to be less dangerous for our health, “the long term effects of this type of radiation are still uncertain.”

Security precautions at airports are here to stay which means, for now, we need to get used to scanning devices. If you are concerned about exposure to the newer airport scanners, you can opt for a pat down instead (this is what I do when I travel). Just be sure to leave the house a little earlier to allow for the extra time you’ll need to get through security (sometimes there is a wait for female Officers). However, in my opinion it is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Written by Andrea Donsky. Post originally appeared on Naturally Savvy.

Related at Care2

40 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s8 days ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s8 days ago

Thank you

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heather g
heather g8 days ago

This is alarming Quote: " a group of scientists reported that terahertz waves have an ability to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”
In future, I'll ask for a pat down....

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Lisa M
Lisa M9 days ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M9 days ago

Noted.

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Aaron F
Aaron F10 days ago

Oh, please...............

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Mick G
Mick Gorman11 days ago

Thank you.

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Winn A
Winn A11 days ago

Noted

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Danuta W
Danuta W11 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Anne M
Anne Moran11 days ago

Gotta do,, what they gotta do...

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