LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Passengers at LAX will no longer be screened by X-ray body scanners after the Transportation Security Administration opted to replace the controversial machines in order to speed up security procedures.
The scanners were first replaced at Boston Logan International Airport earlier this month, and similar replacement machines were also installed at Los Angeles International Airport, JFK in New York City, Chicago O’Hare, and Orlando, according to reporter Michael Grabell of ProPublica.
Grabell told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that the new machines will utilize low-energy radio waves not unlike those used in cell phones.
“They still use a type of technology to scan passengers’ bodies for explosives, but they don’t contain the ionizing radiation that at higher levels has been linked to cancer,” Grabell said.
The new machines, known as millimeter-wave scanners, will also avoid producing revealing images that had previously raised concerns among some passengers who felt their privacy was being violated.
The technology will use automated recognition that will not generate an outline of the person’s body.
“The old ones at LAX had required a TSA screener in a separate room to be looking at a heavily blurred image of the passenger’s body,” said Grabell.
Public support of the technology has steadily plummeted since 2010, when passengers began opting for a full-body pat-down rather than risking potential exposure to the backscatter machines.
TSA officials denied that the move was fueled at least in part by concerns over so-called “backscatter” technology that was first introduced in the wake of the attempted “underwear” bombing of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2009.
“In an effort to ensure the most efficient and effective use of security technology, TSA is strategically reallocating backscatter advance imaging technology units in order to allow for expanded use of advance imaging technology units at other airports,” the agency said in a statement.