European legislation has banned the use of x-ray body scanners at airports while further trials are carried out to determine their safety, although Manchester will be allowed to continue its trial of the technology for the time being.
The European Commission has ruled that “In order not to risk jeopardising citizens' health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports. All other technologies, such as that used for mobiles phones and others, can be used provided that they comply with EU security standards”.
Manchester currently use X-ray scanners (also known as back scatter body scanners) at all three of its terminals, and has released the following statement in response to the legislation:
“Extensive tests by the UK Health Protection Agency and the US health authorities have already confirmed that back scatter body scanners pose a negligible risk to human health. It is irresponsible to suggest that because Europe has yet to complete its own health study, our passengers should be concerned.
“European legislation issued this week has approved millimetre wave, another form of body scanner technology, for permanent use at airports. While its study is in train, an extension of the trial of back scatter body scanners at Manchester Airport has been approved by the European Commission until November 2012.
“Given that all of the relevant authorities support the use of back scatter body scanners, the trial will continue.”
Heathrow airport confirmed that it has “previously used X-ray backscatter scanners as part of an evaluation of different body scanner security methods. Heathrow is currently using millimetre-wave body scanners in our terminals but is not currently using the X-ray scanners.”