X-Ray Scanners for Security Checks

X-ray scanners for security checks have been a subject of discussions for many years but no common internationally recognized opinion and procedure has been implemented so far.

Passengers passing through X-ray scanners are exposed to ionizing radiation. Effective doses range from 0,1 to 10 microSv per check which is comparable to 1-100% of the dose from one hour flight in average height or 0,5-50% of the dose from one chest X-ray. A dose received during one check is naturally very low but can’t be taken for negligible in case of repeated exposures which will be probable while introducing this kind of check due to growing terrorist threats worldwide.

According to current international recommendations, adverse health effects of ionizing radiation in terms of increased probability of cancer initiation can’t be ruled out even at small doses. Therefore also this radiation shall be subject to established radiation protection rules and regulations. Basic principles of radiation protection require that any exposure be justified by clear benefits for society or an individual (e.g. medical exposures). Justification of the use of ionization radiation sources lies in demonstrating non-existence of alternative techniques enabling to reach comparable results.

The State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) is of the view that other methods not employing ionizing radiation but at the same time providing comparable information for improving safety of air transport exist for security checks of passengers. Therefore, at this moment, the SÚJB considers the use of X-ray scanners at airports which represent a source of public exposure as unjustified from radiation protection point of view.