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PostPosted: 09 Nov 2010, 22:56 
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http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/pilo ... 5947834443

Quote:
THE world's largest pilot's association has boycotted full-body scanners over health risks but passengers wishing to avoid the devices may instead be faced with "invasive" pat-down searches.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) made the recommendation in a recent letter to its members, advising pilots to submit to the searches instead of facing the extra radiation from the scanners.

The Australian and International Pilots Association says it is also considering the issue raised by the APA but would not comment as to whether it recommends Australian pilots take the same action.

The warning highlights the difficult dilemma travellers and airline staff face at some airports around the world. If they opt not to go through the scanners, they are instead subjected to a new pat-down technique - which has been likened to "foreplay".

Full-body scanners are becoming harder to avoid as they are used in an increasing number of countries around the world, for example there are 341 devices used at 67 US airports.

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Related Coverage

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* New airport pat-downs like 'foreplay' NEWS.com.au, 10 days ago
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* New liquid airport scanner trialled NEWS.com.au, 14 Oct 2010
* Miss Ukraine backs full-body scanners NEWS.com.au, 25 Aug 2010
* Outrage as 'naked scans' stored by police NEWS.com.au, 11 Aug 2010

End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

The devices are planned to be rolled out across Australia next year.

David Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines, is leading the charge to boycott the scanners.

“It is important to note that there are "backscatter" AIT devices now being deployed that produce ionizing radiation, which could be harmful to your health,” Mr Bates said.

“I share our pilots' concerns about this additional radiation exposure and plan to recommend that our pilots refrain from going through the AIT (body scanners).

“We already experience significantly higher radiation exposure than most other occupations, and there is mounting evidence of higher-than-average cancer rates as a consequence."

Mr Bates says it’s less than ideal that people who wish to avoid the extra radiation are left with no choice but to undergo what he calls “demeaning” pat-down searches.

Associate Professor Jan Gebicki, from Macquarie University, who specialises in radiation biology, says that caution should be exercised when it comes to full-body scanners.

“If we cannot establish any cause-effect links between health and scanner exposure, it is safest to assume that any exposure represents a potential risk, even if it is too small to measure,” Mr Gebicki said.

US scientists warned earlier this year of the potential health dangers of the devices, saying that the radiation levels have been dangerously underestimated and could lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.

University of California biochemist David Agard warned that unlike other scanners, the radiation from these devices is delivered at low energy beam levels, with most of the dose concentrated in the skin and underlying tissue.

“While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high,” Dr Agard said.

"Ionizing radiation such as the X-rays used in these scanners have the potential to induce chromosome damage, and that can lead to cancer."

David Brenner, the head of Columbia University’s Centre for Radiological Research, says the concentration on the skin – one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the body – means the radiation dose is actually 20 times higher than the official estimate.

The researcher was consulted to write guidelines for the security scanners in 2002 but said he would not have signed the report had he known the devices were going to be used so widely.

However concerns have also been raised about pat-down searches. The search technique has been changed at some US airports and now involves a “front-of-the-hand, slide-down technique”.

Travellers have complained about the new searches, with flier Rosemary Fitzpatrick left in tears as she was felt around her breasts and buttocks by a security officer.

“As an experienced traveller for work who was in tears for most of the search process, I have never experienced a more traumatic and invasive travel event,” she said.

Civil liberties groups agree, saying the searches amount to an indecent assault in any other context and shows an alarming disregard for privacy by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“We question the effectiveness of the methods that are being presented and the choice that travellers are being given,” Chris Ott, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said.

"Travellers are being asked to choose between being scanned ‘naked’ and exposed to radiation, or getting what people are describing as just a highly invasive search by hands of their entire bodies.”

"People want to feel safe and secure when flying,” Civil Liberties Australia director Tim Vines said.

“And that includes feeling safe from the wandering hands of transport officials.”

The health warnings come ahead of the planned rollout of the scanners in Australia next year as part of the Federal Government’s crackdown on airport security.

Currently less than one per cent of travellers decline the airport scan, officials estimate.

http://network.news.com.au/images/i_related.gif 'Invasive': Pat-down searches 'life foreplay'

http://network.news.com.au/images/i_related.gif Warning: Airport scanners 'may increase cancer risk'


Read more: http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/pilo ... z14qfIMifM

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