Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Body scanners

Delivered in Plenary - 10th February 2010

Mr President

The recent announcement of compulsory back-scatter X-ray technology whole-body scanners at British airports by Prime Minister Gordon Brown is an outrage, in my view.

This is the first time ever that ionising radiation is being forced on people, including children and pregnant women, and indeed being used widely on healthy humans for non-medical reasons.

Soft low-energy X-rays actually are more absorbed than the higher-energy cosmic rays you receive whilst flying and are thus more dangerous and not less dangerous to the skin and soft tissues. Furthermore, diagnostic medical X-rays allow the user, the patient, the possibility of a lead shielding on their gonads to reduce the total population dose causing DNA damage and future genetic mutations not possible with these devices either.

As a doctor and frequent air traveller, I totally reject this draconian measure for health reasons, not to mention privacy and ineffectiveness reasons, and I hope that the EU refuses such mandatory measures Europe-wide. Instead I argue we should bring on Israeli-style profiling of passengers.