Help Us Stop The Use of Potentially Dangerous Airport Scanners

Tuesday May 14 | BY |
| Comments (59)


Air travel used to be so easy.

I’m sure many of you remember when you could bring water onto a plane. Or how about when you could walk through security through your shoes on (you still can in many countries outside of the U.S.)

My mother was a flight attendant for 18 years for TWA. When I was young, she used to bring me into the cabin to meet the pilot — while the plane was in the air.

None of this happens anymore — though the awesome Southwest flight attendants on Hudson’s first flight did give us wings — a much cheaper version of the wing pins I used to collect and put on my favorite hat when I flew as a kid.

What’s worse is that each time you fly out of any major airport, you have to be subjected to the invasive and potentially dangerous security scanners.

I’m not going to get into any science behind these machines (I wrote briefly about some of the issues with the scanners here), because it’s convoluted and more needs to be done — check that — is being done on the public willingly right now.

Every time you fly, you’re taking part in the experiment if you don’t opt-out and go through the machine. Eventually, if there are health challenges, it’s my fear that we’ll find out way too late to do anything — like with cigarettes or thalidomide.

Another reason I don’t need science to convince me, is because when you’re traveling with a kid the process is markedly different. They don’t let you go through the machines. They send you through the regular metal detector and then swipe your hands for bomb residue.

I imagine for children there are two reasons this happens.

First, because it’s hard to “assume the position” if you’re holding a 10 month old. Second, it’s likely they’re being cautious because the machines haven’t been proven safe for use with children. (I’ve seen children up to 10-13 years old be sent through the metal detector not the scanners — an age they clearly can go through the machine and be scanned like an adult.)

Essentially, what this means is that there is a reversed standard of proof between children and adults.

In the instance of a child, it’s assumed the scanners are dangerous until proven safe.

In the instance of an adult, it’s the reverse, safe until proven dangerous.

As an adult with a child, I’m all for technology and making travel safe, but I’m not interested in being part of the experiment. Additionally, while I love my light TSA body work when I travel alone (since I opt-out), I would rather book an appointment with a massage therapist.

I’m glad they’ve chosen whether willingly or not, to protect my son, but I’m disappointed they don’t take the same care for me, or my wife.

On the Matter of Safety

Please keep in mind, I’ve never seen these scanning machines in South America, Central America or Mexico — so I’m fairly convinced safe flight can happen without them. And, yes, these countries are not being targeted, but there have been very few hijackings globally since 2001, where these scanning machines are not generally used, nor have I been able to find any casualties in the incidents since 2001.

Back to health though…

I’d love for the burden of proof to be reversed.

I’d love for the agencies who are here to protect us, actually think proactively about our health and privacy by forcing manufacturers to prove their machines (drugs, treatments, surgeries, etc.) are safe before they release them on a public that is accepting because they are fearful.

I thank goodness I can opt-out from the experiment, but it would be nice if the machine didn’t even exist and no one — unknowingly — would be test subjects for technology that could be entirely unnecessary, while at the same time, potentially hazardous.

I’m sure you want the same thing for yourself.

So, what can you do?

Good news is that there are two things you can do…

1. Continue to Opt-Out. Tell the TSA agent as your things are going through the X-Ray that you “want to opt-out.” They know exactly what that means and will find a male or female bodyworker for you.

2. You can submit public comment as to why you don’t want to be screened by these machines here.

I’d suggest you write something simple, like this:

As a concerned citizen, I believe these scanners violate my right to privacy and I am still concerned about the safety of continued use. We need further study to determine the safety of them and it’s unfair that we’re being subjected to a practice that has not yet been proven 100% safe.

Here’s a video explaining the call for public comment. As of now there are over 3,500 comments.

3. Optional. You could strip down naked under the premise that “the most effective way to tell them I’m not carrying a bomb is take off my clothes”…

If you do that though, Renegade Health can’t be liable for your nude pictures all over the national news. Proceed at your own risk.

Your question of the day: Do you opt-out of the airport scanners or do you think there’s no harm?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Lorien says:

    I opt out. They always say – you do know they are safe – as if I were 10 and I say “I know what they say, I don’t like them. In 20 years when they discover they cause icky things I’ll be okay still”

  2. Iva Talacko says:

    He is a Hero, he did someting instad of beeing sheep!

  3. Candace says:

    I refuse to fly out of US airports since the scanners and TSA have been there.

  4. Oleander says:

    Brilliant!!!! Well done that man!!!!
    SO Funny!!!!! Actually each year, I travel fro London Heathrow to Boston Logan en route by coach to Portland Me to see my son and family- So especially relevant for me!
    Kevin, I ALWAYS OPT OUT, but sometimes left standing, totally ignored by the rude staff (WHITE MALES!) at Bosto on my return! (I’m white British female by the way}

    You will be interested to know that I haven’t seen any of those Xray machines at London Heathrow International. Only the metal detectors.

    So Everybody OPT OUT! OPT OUT OPT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. dadsfavor8 says:

    The age thing is because kids don’t stand still. Most adults don’t either…but should. lol. As far as safety goes..the TSA agents themselves have complained initially and called in for these sanners to be tested. We were told it is safe and it’s no more radiation than watching tv for an hour or so….believe it or not…only time will tell. I agree with you on that.
    How do you think the TSA agents feel? For every 5 seconds of this machine running to scan you….we are also getting it. Multiply that by an average of 7000-8000 ( some checkpoints average 10,000) passengers per day, per checkpoint! Per shift! Then add the xray machines we run for every bag that gets scanned, per passenger, per lane, per checkpoint, per shift! You’ve got it easy…
    PS…option 2 is not an option. It’s not legal to get naked in public. Keep it real…just opt out 🙂

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      Option 3 was a joke 😉

      • dadsfavor8 says:

        😉 Kevin..I figured that….just wanted to make you aware of the possible increased dangers to those that work there as well! We take a LOT of crap from every side…the media, the passengers, the management…ect. Its not as fun or easy as people think. We get crap pay (lowest on the totem pole in the gov’t system) and take a LOT of grief to be able to work and support our families. sigh…..

    • Cassie says:

      Dadsfavor8 it is really great that as a TSA agent u are speaking out about the dangers! Please try to encourage ur fellow coworkers to submit public comments, I think ur voices mean a lot to the debate.

  6. I didn’t know that I could opt out. Thank you, Kevin!

  7. I always opt out in the USA. Sometimes I get lucky and no one is going through the backscatter scanners, but the few times I have opted out, I haven’t been treated so nicely. They basically want to make you feel like a problem and “You will be patted down fully front and back”. Even when wearing a t shirt and thin knee length shorts I’ve had them been hostile to me when I said i am not hiding anything there wouldn’t be any room and then they go on and on about how they don’t know that and I could be holding a bomb… I’m thinking seriously? Nice way to get treated. As a woman I just personally don’t want to be subjected to machine because it’s showing pictures and I think that’s an invasion of privacy. Even though getting felt up by a female employee at least I know she doesn’t enjoy it! lol I travel quite a bit by air and just don’t like the idea of lining up like cattle in general to have pictures taken and x rays taken, so I will continue to opt out because it inconveniences them as well.

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      Veronica, have you encountered scanning machines in Canada?

      • Apparently there are 52 of these scanners at Canadian airports. I have not seen them used yet flying out of Vancouver or Calgary. I’m sure they are there, but not always being used. It seems they have switched all the machines to have computer generated stick figures instead of actually showing people’s bodies, but then that only solves one part of the issue. We still don’t know how safe they are and for frequent travellers if they should be a concern, as we already get radiation from traveling on airplanes as it is. I’m still going to opt out given the chance, but I have to say I’ve been pretty lucky and they aren’t always being used, or sometimes there’s just 1 line being sent through and the other lines go to the metal detectors. I think metal detectors and bomb residue swabbing seems like a better way to check, plus staff trained in profiling travellers behaving suspiciously.

    • Teetee says:

      If she is gay, she IS enjoying it.

  8. I always opt out and usually without incident except at the Phoenix Airport where they try to convince me that it is safe. I always start asking them about their credentials for making this statement and to show me the scientific research. When I explain that I have a physics degree and start talking technical they leave me alone. I have had people watching decide to opt out also and security doesn’t want people knowing or thinking they should do this. A word of caution, be very careful about what you say and always be friendly and courteous because they can cause you a lot of problems and even refuse to allow you on the plane if you are acting “suspicious” and you will lose .

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      Being nice is the key. If you see the TSA as people just doing their jobs and are nice to them 99% of the time, they’re just as nice to you. Ultimately, the goal is to get on the plane. If you argue, you could compromise your objective. What fun is that?

      I’ve also had the people a Phoenix airport explain the same thing. Funny, they must have a PR campaign going on there.

  9. When these machines came out, I was working at my local airport at the ticket counter. I remember asking the TSA agents why they weren’t required to wear X-Ray detection badges. They didn’t know. I also asked who calibrates and maintains the units and the answer was “nobody”. At that moment I decided to NEVER go through these machines. Since that time, newer, non-Xray machines came into use, but I’m not buying into the safety of these, either. I often wonder about all the people willingly being scanned by something they don’t understand. I’ve come to the conlusion that Americans are “sheeple” and simply don’t question anything, including what they put INTO their bodies, much less what happens to the outside of them. My advice to the sheeple is WAKE UP!

  10. Sue Rushford says:

    I had always opted out or went through the metal detector if available, but the last 2 times I flew, they told me they updated the machines so there was no radiation – explained here: says, “…the TSA is in the final phases of removing the last of Rapiscan’s backscatter scanners from airport checkpoints by June. Full-body scanners using a different technology that does not involve ionizing radiation, called millimeter wave, will remain in use to screen passengers.”

  11. Zyxomma says:

    I opt out. Better groped than irradiated.

  12. marc says:

    I’ve always wondered — if I’ve got herbal tinctures I’m bringing with me, are they ruined by the baggage scanners?

  13. Lexxie says:

    I refuse to fly in the USA and boycott all airports because of the scanners and TSA. I don’t want to go into the false reasons they have these, let’s just say I see what the bigger agenda is and I see through all the manipulations.
    The scanners are clearly dangerous and the TSA agents have no right to touch any part of my body and molest me just to get on an airplane. How parents can let these psychopath bullies sexually molest their children is beyond me. If I need to travel anywhere out of my state, I either drive or take the train or bus. I know it might be a little bit more expensive and takes more time but I absolutely refuse to put up with the abuse. I am going to Europe in the near future. I live in the Seattle area so I will either drive to Vancouver BC if they don’t have the scanner and TSA there. Then fly from there or if they do then I will drive down to California, cross into Mexico and fly out from there. When they are taking away your basic human rights and freedoms, the best way to fight back is peaceful non compliance. I refuse to let myself be radiated or molested just to be able to travel!

  14. Tracy says:

    As a concerned citizen, I believe these scanners violate my privacy and I am concerned about the safety ( CT scanning is 700 more times radiation than a conventional xray), the powers that be will tell you they are safe, and bribe the scientists they pay to tell the public that they are safe ( easy done, in this world it is happening on every level, consider the global warming issue). We need to ensure this practice is100% safe before subjecting any human beings to this paranoid practice. Here, here I would rather be groped than irradiated.

  15. linda says:

    For us to go through these scanners that means we are exposed to radiation and who knows whatever electrical currents that can’t be good for us. How do we know if they don’t put out more than expected that can harm us over and over exposure is not healthy.

  16. Ann Tiede says:

    What are we people or sheeple?? It’s time to wake up and stand up for our freedom and insist on our privacy rights. Even groping must be stopped. It is not necessary.
    Do your homework and search the internet until you are aware of what is really happening. Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something you know may injure you eventually.

  17. John Wright says:

    Well I have lymphoma cancer, two kinds, have gone through 6 months of chemo therapy and lost
    my taste, healthy bacteria in my intestines and suffer from lots of pain. So now I am going natural
    but my doctors think I am stupid, they have the mindset of chemicals. What is hard is most have
    theories, but few have actually results as to what works and what doesn’t.
    So far cannabis is supposed to be great for salads and juicing. Also seems
    to have some good insight. I just want to live a healthy life and hopefully somewhat pain free. So
    any facts from you would be helpful.

    • Sue says:

      for John with lymphoma, Order B17 online ,No red meat or junk food. Drink Noni. This is a tested regimen for those fighting cancer. I already saved a life.

  18. I ALWAYS ask for a “pat down”, telling them I do not want to go through the machine. Must admit they are always polite and respectful, and it causes only a minor delay.

  19. Ann says:

    I opted out (and will continue to do so, as I read on, when I went from CA to OR. The TSA people were very nice to me. Of course I made out like it was no big deal and they explained it was ok to go through, but I told them that I’d rather not and that I personally wasn’t sure it was safe for me. What’s weird though is that when I came back from OR to CA, there were no scanners in Portland. So, I didn’t have to go through another pat down. YEAH!! I only had to go through it once.

    • Ann says:

      I just realized that the naked man was from PDX in Portland. I don’t know why I didn’t have to go through the scanner in Portland, but I didn’t. Interesting.

  20. If I can’t drive my car there I just don’t go. When my Dr. last wanted to run the ray machine on me I asked for a thyroid bib. when I was told there was none available I declined the machine. He fired me. Oh well.

  21. Gerry Coffey says:

    I KNOW the airport scanners ARE HARMFUL! I usually opt out and get a live person to do a hand scan but the last flight I took, because I was running late, I forgot to request it.
    A few hours later I felt pain and swelling in my chest and it continued for several days. Women with Breast Cancer and men with Testicular Cancer should especially be weary.
    We should stop being sheep and doing whatever they tell us and rise up in arms against these invasions of privacy that are also quite harmful.
    It’s kind of like being a little bit pregnant.
    You either are or you aren’t.
    How much radiation in good for a person.
    I rest my case…

  22. Annie says:

    I opted out, and boy was I embarrassed throughout the process.

    First of all, I had to wait until they found a female TSA agent (it was a smaller airport in Michigan). Then, she began to pat me down (private parts and all) while EVERYONE watched and wondered what the heck was going on.

    Also when I opted out, the TSA agent asked me why I was choosing this, and I told him about my thyroid issue. Then, he asked me if I had a note from my doctor!

    All in all, it was a very bad experience.

  23. I always opt out. Don’t need any more radiation.

  24. Deborah says:

    In this day and time, most law abiding citizens just want to get to where they are going. Unfortunately, one never knows if they make waves, what can happen to them. You are without doubt correct in your conclusion, however you are young, for a person in their 60’s it is a whole different world. Thank you for your time and dedication for a better world. You, Mike Adams and all the other leaders in a new world venture are to be admired for the future generations.

  25. I have opted out and yes they were not very nice about it… seemingly making it take longer so I would be late for my flight.

  26. jackie says:

    Thank you for providing this link to voice our opinions. There were only 2 other people besides me who commented..??! I hope lots more people do!

  27. Sharon says:

    I would opt out solely because no amount of radiation is safe, it is cumulative, and I don’t trust the TSA with my health.

  28. macro says:

    I always choose to get the pat down. My experience including the most recent travel a couple of days ago by the TSA personnel when I request for a pat down has been of discouragement of this request:

    1. It is much faster if you go the scanners then to wait for someone to pat you down. Then he proceeded to yell that a female searcher was needed.
    2. These new scanners do not have radiation plus it only takes a few seconds.

    It is already uncomfortable to have to stand aside to wait for a TSA person to come pat you down but why the discouragement and lies when we have the legal right to request for an opt out?

    I agree with you in that it makes you wonder why children do not go through the scanners. Also, I noticed certain airline personnel do not go through the scanners too.

  29. Faith Minier says:

    I always opt out and have been treated very well each time. I offer no hostility and receive none in return. My pat downs have been very professional and respectful, IMO.

  30. Dalia says:

    I always opt out of scanners.

    X-rays machines are never safe and the exposure accumulates in the body.

    The hole thing is outrages to put untested machines in the airports.

    In Israel there are no machines, but El-Al flights are the safest.

    They could learn from Israelis, if they would be interested.

    Somebody makes big money from this machines and this is probably the reason we have them, not are safety.

    Besides I read they are not always can detect the explosives.

  31. Grace hickok says:

    I always ask for an agent to do the opt-out for me and the kids.

  32. I am from Europe and recently traveled in the US. At Denver Airport I opted out from the scanning machine and felt like an alien, as curious passengers watched me while I had a manual body check. Even though the TSA lady was careful to explain in advance very clearly where she is going to touch me and with which part of her hand (they don’t do this in Europe, because we don’t have the looming risk of law suits that might follow), they checked me in full view of everybody else and I clearly was an exception. It is as if the TSA wants to discourage people to opt out, by making you feel very uncomfortable. They would say to a colleague: “Here’s another opt out” and then they take you to a place where everybody can see you, they explain for several minutes what they are going to do, and then they do it. This whole procedure takes much more time than if you just don’t bother and get scanned. My co-travellers had to wait for me and were embarrassed about “my odd resistance” to do like everybody else.

  33. teresa reilly says:

    I think te scanners should be scrapped and the perverts whop operate them should be locked away

  34. Jon says:

    I have not flown and will not fly since/whilst I have to be scanned. I already have cancer and do not want it to be made worse by these scanners.

  35. Karine says:

    Opt out….always. Whenever an edict comes through that’s mandatory in response to a “crisis” or threat, it leaves too many questions unanswered. For example, is it safe? I, too, am in agreement with you about the not knowing and in the future will there be health issues? I didn’t sign up to be a guinea pig.
    Staff do make it a point in the Atlanta/Hartsfield airport to delay the physical screening and some show their disdain of your decision. I make sure to arrive early to allow for this delay. No scanner for me!

  36. Frank says:

    67 Y O male, ret. army officer
    I opt out and look at the pat person as if he has a screw loose.
    I consider that any normal person would have to feel like a rectum doing this sort of ridiculous thing.
    But, of course, normalcy is now abortion and perversion.
    I pray for them.

  37. Chris says:

    I always opt out.
    It’s really no big deal, plus you get a little mini massage before the flight!

  38. JT says:

    In Orlando, and in LAX they now have non-radiation sonogram type of scanners. These are based on sound waves. I was told it was exactly like having a sonogram at your doctor’s office when you are pregnant. I don’t have a problem with sound waves. I have always opted out of regular scans, but the sonogram ones sound better. I was told that all the airports are trying to get rid of the x-ray type and are going to the sonogram type. The sonogram scanners look different than the x-ray type.

    My question is, what if it is medically necessary to have a CT scan? What can someone do to clean out their body of harmful radiation?

  39. Hooray! I did not know you could opt out – yup – that’s for me and my family! Thanks, Kev! You’re the best!

    Cheers! Debra

  40. Michele says:

    In the UK I think you can’t opt out… I tried to refuse a scan and was told if I did I wouldn’t be allowed on the plane!!

  41. Liz Williams says:

    I want to add to be careful where you stand when you are waiting for the TSA person to pat you down. Sometimes they try to have you stand right behind the machine that x rays the bags. Way not good. It’s like holding 10+ cellphones next to your body. I tell them I am not standing in front of the back of that machine. So far no one has mad me do it. The whole system is terrible for your health, especially if your immune system is already compromised.

  42. There is no way I can fly to my son’s wedding because I can’t risk cancer from these horrible scanners, and I don’t want to be groped.

  43. Catherine Euler says:

    I find your lack of discussion of man-made ionizing radiation in this article quite curious. I think we, the public, need to speak about this issue more often. The scanners are potentially dangerous because even a small amount of man-made ionizing radiation, even 5 microrem above “background” can lead to ionizing traversals of the genome or indeed a single cell. This kind of microscopic destruction should not have to be endured by us humans any more than we already endure radiological damage from previously-existing, natural, background radiation. This varies from place to place, depending largely on geology and elevation. Many of our cancers, leukemias, heart diseases, circulatory diseases, immune-system deficiencies, mental retardation, anemias, birth defects, and so forth, have been caused partly by our chronic exposure to natural radiation; but if you notice a huge rise in these diseases over the past seventy years, then blame the nuclear/military industry. Blame the above-ground tests conducted by the US, (on US territory) the USSR, and China from 1945-1963. These release(d) more man-made ionizing radiation worldwide than have Three Mile Island, Fukushima and Chernobyl put together. That’s several trillion becquerels, by the way. One bequerel is one atomic disintegration per second of an ionising particle or ray. Each disintegration can mutate genetic materials in all of life, as well as cause unexpected illnesses. These substances and exposures to gamma/xrays have been going on in an increasingly universal way since 1945. Let’s stop it now. Let’s stop the airport xray scanners (even “tiny” doses cause damage; I never use the scanners myself). Let’s stop the nuclear power plants, too. Humanty has suffered enough already from the last seventy years of this genocidal folly. (BTW, Let’s use becquerels, now guys, and quit this obfuscation over made-up numbers inherent in the rems, microrems, and their equivalent sieverts). (See Stewart, Sternglass, Mangano, Caldicott, Busby, Bertell, Gofman, BEIR VII, ECRR, etc etc etc).

  44. BestGuest says:

    The backscatter x-ray scanners can cause cancer:

    The millimeter wave scanners can rip DNA strands:

  45. A big Thankyou Kevin for covering this, it is one of my pet peeves. I know it is Wrong and it is a violoation. I believe very strongly that these machines are dangerous to our health. I fly very frequently to the usa from canada and I always go for pat down, and I have have noticed every time they try very hard to discourage me from doing the pat down. They say things like you will have to wait a while, stand over there. I always respond that’s okay to all of their discouraging comments. I will never go through their machines or scanners ever!!!!!! I hope you have more coverage on this Kevin in the future. Thanks Susan

  46. Christopher says:

    Everyone is talking about how much radiation people are exposed to at the scanners. No one is talking about how much radiation exposure you get while flying. The increase in x ray radiation you receive from a trip from NY to LA at 30,000 ft is about the same as a set of 18 dental x rays. No big deal unless you fly all the time (like airline employees). I guess nobody talks about this either because they have no knowledge of this exposure or they accept the exposure to have the convenience of flying.

  47. Patrick says:

    I think there is a need for security of some sort at all airports , after all we have seen the results of a lack of security several times. I don’t think x-ray machines are the answer however and like many people choose to opt out politely and have a body check. After all its a free country isin’t it ?

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