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Travel Tip: Full-Body Scanners and Medical Concerns

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Chances are, you’ve heard about the full-body scanners that the TSA is rolling out across the country.

Privacy issues aside, many people are concerned about the safety of these devices.

Here’s what we know…

There are two types of full-body scanners out there.

The millimeter-wave scanner uses high-frequency radio waves to create 3D images.

The more controversial backscatter scanner uses small doses of ionizing radiation.

In reality, you get more radiation from actually flying on the plane than walking through a scanner.

But for frequent fliers, there is a legitimate concern over cumulative radiation.

If you have a pacemaker, the general consensus is that full-body scanners are safe. But pacemakers and defibrillators often have very specific calibrations, so talk to the doctor who implanted the device about possible risks based on your brand.

If you’re not comfortable going through a scanner, you can opt for a pat-down. You even have the right to be patted down in a private room.

Now, the fact is, the TSA isn’t necessarily trained on each and every medical condition. But they are expected to treat customers with sensitivity and respect.

If you feel that’s not the case, stop, and ask for a supervisor.

If you want to file a complaint, ask for the Customer Service Manager for the airport, and follow up with the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties.

Learn more about the TSA’s latest techniques in our Travel Safety & Security section.

And get more of our Daily Travel Tips here.