Australian news, and some related international items

Australian airline pilots might boycott radiation scanning

The [backscatter radiation scanning] devices are planned to be rolled out across Australia next year…The Australian and International Pilots Association says it is also considering the issue raised by the APA

Pilots boycott full-body scanners over health fears By Kate Schneider, , November 08, 2010 THE world’s largest pilot’s association has boycotted full-body scanners over health risksbut 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.

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.
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.”

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 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.

Pilots boycott full-body scanners over health fears |

November 8, 2010 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | , , , ,

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