Full-body airport security scanners manufactured by Rapiscan Inc. expose the skin to high radiation levels that may lead to cancer and other health problems, according to researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. Particularly at risk, the researchers said, are travelers who are pregnant, elderly or have weakened immune systems. The machines emit X-ray energy levels that would be safe if they were distributed throughout the body, but a majority of that energy is delivered to the skin and underlying tissue at levels that "may be dangerously high," the researchers wrote last month to the White House Office of Science and Technology. Officials with the Department of Homeland Security defended the use of Rapiscan's backscatter machines. The amount of energy emitted from the machines is equal to two minutes in flight at cruising altitude, said Dr. Alex Garza, chief medical officer for the Department of Homeland Security.
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