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In this post I have stumbled across a handy-dandy tool from the:

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
OFFICE OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE
CIVIL AEROSPACE MEDICAL INSTITUTE

CAMI Logo

Click for calculator access

Which calculates the estimated cosmic radiation that you would receive on a given flight. All you have to do is make a few assumptions and calculations and then you have the estimated dose. That is all well and good, but my point is to show (again) just how minuscule the doses that you get from airport body scanners are, and that the radiation they bounce off your bodies is negligible.

Safety From Numbers

As I have stated in the previous post on body scanners, the dosage that is considered negligible to modern medicine is about 10 microsieverts per year. And as I additionally stated, the dosage that you receive from one body scan from the airport is an insignificant 0.02 microsieverts. Now for my money, because the body scan emits radiation that is 500 times less than negligible, the scanners are harmless.

What most people do not realize is that you receive more radiation, emitted from various sources in space, just living on this planet that you could ever feasibly get from repeated body scans, we are just not on the same level of dosage.

What I intend to show you is that you receive over 500 times more radiation from just 1 trans-American flight than you do from the body scan prior to boarding. So let’s see what the cosmic radiation calculator spat out (making a few assumptions along the way):

I took a simple trans-American flight from Milwaukee (hometown), to Los Angeles, and made a few assumptions about the flight times. Since my training is in environmental engineering, I had to guesstimate some of the variables that the calculator required. I assumed that the plane would reach altitude in 15 minutes, and only depart from that altitude to descend. I also assumed a 3-hour flight, and altitude of 35,000 feet, and a descending time of 20 minutes. I think that the assumptions are somewhat conservative, be what is important is the number that we ended up with.

My point is this: you would receive just under 17 microsieverts, which is 850 times more radiation that you would get from a body scan in just one flight!

So we then see that if we are to use the best tools (feasibly) that the public can have access to, we still come to the conclusion that the radiation that we get from scanners is both harmless and cosmically dwarfed. You get much more radiation every day from just being an Earthling.

[If you are still skeptical about the safety of the scanners, you can refer to my previous post here.]