The USA Today reports that the TSA plans to install 150 security machines at airport checkpoints that enable screeners to see under passengers’ clothes.
The installation will vastly expand the use of the controversial body scanners, which can reveal hidden bombs and knives. But the devices have been labeled as intrusive by some lawmakers. The House of Representatives in June overwhelmingly passed a measure that would restrict their use by the TSA to passengers flagged by other types of screening, such as metal detectors. The measure is pending in the Senate.
The $100,000 scanners shoot low-intensity X-rays that penetrate clothing, bounce off a person’s skin and create images that show solid objects as dark areas. The TSA machines have privacy additions to create images that look like etchings. Screeners view them on a monitor in a locked room near a checkpoint and delete them immediately after viewing.
Although the machines use X-rays, a 2003 report by the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements, which Congress created to develop radiation guidelines, said people can safely be scanned by the machines up to 2,500 times a year.
The TSA has been testing scanners since early 2007, mostly on passengers who set off a metal-detector alarm and are taken aside for additional screening. The new scanners will be installed beginning early next year and will be used in place of metal detectors at checkpoints.
Passengers may choose to avoid the scanners and be screened by a metal detector, but those who do will be pulled aside for a pat-down.
Here’s some more travel news you can use: