N-radiation safety watchdog says no to airport full-body scanners

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The nuclear safety regulator has objected to the move to install full-body scanners at airports, saying X-rays passing through passengers' bodies expose them to harmful radiation.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board recently sent its report to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, which now plans to replace 'backscatter' technology scanners with scanners that use 'millimetre wave technology', and do not emit any X-rays.

AERB was part of an inter-disciplinary committee set up to look into implications of installing the scanners, from privacy concerns to health risks.

"Before we install the (new) scanners, we will prepare a report based on feedback from at least 4,000 passengers who pass through them. Some 9-10 companies will demonstrate their products," a senior official said.

The government plans to test the scanners with an "altered calibration". The scanners must be re-calibrated to detect weapons or explosives in the folds of garments like a sari, he said.

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