Thursday, May 20, 2010

airport x-ray scanners and pregnancy

Did anyone hear the recent NPR report on concerns about airport x-ray scanners – the kind where you put your arms up and it takes a full shot of your body while exposing you to up to six seconds of x-ray radiation? It’s making me not want to go through them, especially when pregnant. Nor do I want my child to go through it.

The TSA says its optional and parents can choose to not have their children go through screening. However, my sense is that choosing the pat-down is not just a matter of making a choice. It comes across to me as more of a punishment – incurring either humiliation or a significant delay with an already long line.

We’ll see how the choice works soon, because I think I prefer to avoid exposure for my unborn child and my child, if not for myself. Those who say it’s safe compare it to the radiation received through flight – which is a matter of concern. But if I’m already receiving a potentially troubling amount of radiation during my flight, do I really want any more? No.

And how do they know it’s safe without long-term studies? It takes a while for chromosomes to be damaged and for cancer to occur. These machines have just appeared. It seems hard to be assured that results are not going to appear decades later for frequent travelers.

Worrying about this also makes me want to cut back on airline travel while pregnant. But so far, I have two trips to the Midwest, one to Europe and one to Africa planned. Hopefully that will be it.
Are you concerned about these machines? Why or why not? Do you plan to go through them? If you’ve opted out, how did it go?

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