Update (Aug. 6, 2012) : See New York Times, X-Ray Scans at Airports Leave Lingering Worries
So-called backscatter X-ray scanners are in use at 36 airports in the United States, and questions persist about their safety.
The JCRC was invited by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to join a group of religious leaders to critique the implementation of the airport passenger screening process. Leaders of many faiths expressed concerns regarding modesty and safety. Today, TSA officials reached out to us to update us on pertinent developments.
The TSA is in the process of introducing new Advanced Imaging Technology which will substantially address the questions of modesty. Any potential threat items that are detected are detected by an automated system and indicated on a generic outline of a person (rather than the passenger’s body). If no potential threat items are detected, an “OK” appears on the monitor with no outline.(See the illustrations below.)
Click here to can get more information on the new system. Deployment of the new technology is not yet scheduled for the major NYC area, but the TSA plans to eventually install it everywhere.
The backscatter technology used in the system was evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). All reported that it is safe and meets national health and safety standards. Click here to read more and download the evaluations.
They also informed us of new Risk-Based Security and Pre-Check pilot programs which will allow passengers to voluntarily provide more information about themselves, so that the TSA can better segment the population in terms of risk and provide expedited screening for “trusted travelers”. See more information here.