MIAMI — If you are at all familiar with commercial airlines, you know that security measures are very tight at airports. There are restrictions on what you can take onboard with you, as well as what can be packed in your luggage. Not only does your stuff get scanned in an x-ray machine, you yourself will also be subjected to a body scan.
Graduates of Rutgers University with a concentration in biomedical engineering can be assured that body scan machines are perfectly safe, but everyone else will want to know how they work. These machines allow TSA agents to see what’s inside your body, but very few people understand the science behind this technology.
How to Prepare for a Body Scan at the Airport
When it comes time for you to travel on an airplane, you can rest assured that a full body scan is on the cards. Some people feel incredibly self-conscious about having their ‘insides’ showing up on a screen, but TSA agents probably see thousands of the same images daily.
You likely won’t be remembered at all and there are airport policies that prevent customers from being harassed, harangued, or otherwise singled out. Just wear whatever you normally would and alert agents if you have any sort of internal medical devices, like a pacemaker.
Are Body Scan Machines Safe?
Much like going through a metal detector, body scans are meant to reveal anything that is out of the ordinary. If you wear metal braces, they will come up on the screen, as well as a complete and anatomically correct outline of your body.
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These machines use extremely low levels of radiation to instantly produce images of the inside of traveler’s bodies. Like CT scans and traditional x-rays, body scan machines used at the airport are considered to be harmless by scientists and doctors.
Now, you wouldn’t want to stand in a body scanner for hours because of the radiation, but when they are used in the manner that they were created for, your health isn’t at risk.
Where Else Are Body Scans Use?
For the most part, the type of body scan equipment used at airports is only used to help TSA agents locate contraband. There would be little use for this kind of equipment at hospitals, as doctors are much more concerned about health than hidden foreign objects.
On the other hand, jails and prisons are constantly trying to prevent inmates from smuggling in restricted substances and objects. Body scanners are used in select places to help keep correctional institutions safer, with good results. Rutgers students might also study body scanners to see how ionized radiation is able to produce a perfect x-ray type of picture of the internal components of subjects.
Body scanners are kind of like the inverse version of standard x-ray machines. Both technologies allow you to see the inside of the body, while one focuses solely on bones and the other creates a complete image. Soon, body scanners might be used in more places, not only to help detect potential crimes but also to help protect the health of patients.