X-Ray Radiation in Airports
We've learned that medical X-rays give doctors a unique glimpse into the flesh and bone beneath your skin, but how else are they used?
In recent years, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has used X-ray body scanners to detect weapons and other potentially dangerous objects that can't be picked up by metal detectors. This certainly beefs up security for passengers before boarding an airplane, but it also exposes them to X-ray radiation. The use of these backscatter scanners has caused controversy, but is still common in many U.S. airports. Generally speaking, though, the amount of radiation is small compared to typical medical scans. For perspective, the average amount of radiation people are exposed to from these scanners equates to two minutes of being airborne on a plane while at its normal altitude -- a place that lacks the atmosphere's protection from incoming radiation [source: TSA].
Still, frequent flyers as well as airplane personnel should be more cautious about using scanners too often.
Did you know X-ray radiation isn't just limited to our world? Keep reading to learn about its use in science.