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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

Pregnancy, TSA and Full Body Scans

By November 24, 2010

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If you're traveling this weekend, you're probably wondering how your pregnancy will make things different with all the talk of full body scans and pat downs from Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  The new full body scans use x-ray technology, which exposes the person being x-rayed to small amounts of radiation.

"The extremely low dose of radiation from the entire spectrum of TSA screening technology is inconsequential, even to frequent flyers who undergo repeated screenings. When evaluating new screening technologies, TSA performs independent studies and evaluations to verify the systems meet regulatory and national consensus standards to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public, including children and pregnant women as well as the health and safety of the employees who operate the systems. All screening systems fully comply with Federal safety requirements, and measured radiation levels for each are well below limits established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration," an email from TSA explains.

Pregnant women are usually told to avoid x-rays in pregnancy barring medical emergency. The full body scans are optional, according to TSA and you can choose to receive an alternate screening, including a pat down.

If you're traveling and offered both - which will you choose?


November 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm
(1) Nessie says:

I’m not traveling, but would pick the pat-down over the scan. I’d much rather suffer a few uncomfortable seconds of being patted down than even the slightest chance of putting my baby at risk!

November 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm
(2) brooke says:

I am traveling tomorrow and my doctor suggested I request the patdown. You can’t be too careful.

November 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm
(3) Debbie says:

I don’t feel comfortable with the “assurance” that it is safe. We really do not know what is “safe” in pregnancy, as there are many birth defects, behavior disorders and other problems with unknown causes. I suspect there could be cumulative harm, so while the TSA body scan itself is not considered to be at harmful levels, it is always possible that along with other environmental insults we all must live with, it could contribute.

How many insults can we have when each individually is considered low and “safe”? Nobody knows. This also seems to be a violation of the 4th amendment addressing unreasonable search and seizures, completely aside from medical concerns. Is this x-ray without informed consent? I think this was implemented without enough knowledge.

December 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm
(4) Bea says:

The TSA’s assurances about safety are as misleading as everything else this vile agency says. It is irradiating passengers with two technologies. One, backscatter X-ray, is carcinogenic — yes, even in small doses. In fact, b/c it pretty much stays on the surface rather than diffusing through the body as other radiation does, it is very dangerous to the eyes, head and neck, and the skin in general. This also means the dose you receive is many times higher than the TSA admits.
The other technology is millimeter-wave, and so few folks have studied it that no one knows exactly what it does to human beings. One group of experts suggests that it “unravels” DNA–can anyone say “Birth defect”?
Free Americans should not have to confront a “choice” of irradiation or sexual assault to fly. ABOLISH THE TSA.

April 3, 2012 at 10:55 am
(5) Stephanie says:

I was just told that it doesn’t pose any risk and I needed to go through the scanner or I wouldn’t be allowed to board. WTH is wrong with the TSA?! I’m outraged.

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