Despite radiation concerns raised over ‘naked’ airport body scanners that screened millions of passengers at Heathrow, Manchester airport have confirmed that they will continue to use the scanners.
Regulations on the X-ray body scanners were changed after David Brennar, head of the centre for radiological research at Columbia University in New York said that the concentrated amount of radiation used by the scanners could increase the risk of cancer, albeit very slightly.
He told the Telegraph: "If all 800 million people who use airports every year were screened with X-rays then the very small individual risk multiplied by the large number of screened people might imply a potential public health or societal risk.”
The EU Commission has now advised that European airports should switch to regular security body scanners until more thorough research has been done. Results of the study are expected in March 2012.
Using 16 of the £80,000 "backscatter" scanners on a daily basis Manchester airport defended their decision. Passengers are not allowed to board a flight unless they are screened.
A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: "Extensive tests by the UK Health Protection Agency and the US health authorities have already confirmed that back scatter body scanners pose a negligible risk to human health."
"It is irresponsible to suggest that because Europe has yet to complete its own health study, our passengers should be concerned.”
"While its study is under way, an extension of the trial of back scatter body scanners at Manchester Airport has been approved by the European Commission until November 2012.”
The X-ray scanners emit low levels of radiation to capture a ‘naked’ image of a traveller. They were brought in after the ‘underwear bomb plot’ in 2009.
Heathrow trialled the machines initially, but the scanners were relocated after complaints about invasion of privacy. The Health Protection Authority was keen to stress that the low health risk attached to the scanners.
“The radiation dose from an examination of two or three scans is less than that received from two minutes flying at cruising altitude.”