Thursday, November 11, 2010

Follow-up on 'Does the state care about your health?'

(No, it doesn't.) Here's the content of responses that the UK Health Protection Agency is copying and pasting to concerned British citizens (via Facebook):
Thank you for your enquiry regarding airport body scanners.

After speaking to the HSE's Radiation Policy section, they have confirmed that the main government department that is responsible for the safe introduction and use of full body scanners are the Department for Transport (DFT).

The responsibility for the safe operation of the full body scanners will also lie with the airport operator who will need to ensure that risk assessments are carried out as legally required. This will ensure that safe working practises are in place as required in relation to employee exposure.

The following information may be of use to you in relation to your query;

Airport Scanner Types

There are two types of body scanners in use, namely millimetre wave scanners and x-ray scanners


HSE has not published any guidance relating the use of these types of scanner.

HSE has general guidance aimed at employers who have duties to protect their employees, and the public, from the exposure to ionising radiation (such as X-Rays) under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (ACOP L121, which is free to download at

HSE does not currently have any general guidance pertaining to the millimetre wave part of the electromagnetic wave spectrum. However, HSE is currently consulting a set of proposed regulations called the Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 which does include some very general guidance for employers on artificial optical radiation (The Consultative Document containing the draft regulations can be found at It is intended that these regulations will come into force this year.

Exposure limits

For the X-Ray scanners, exposure limits are those set out in Schedule 4 of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. There are currently no exposure limits, that I am aware of, that deal with narrow-band millimetre wave sources such as those used the millimetre wave scanners.

Safety Data

For further details, you may also wish to contact the following departments;

Department for Transport (DfT)

Great Minster House

76 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DR

Tel: 020 7944 8300

Fax: 020 7944 9643


Health Protection Agency

7th Floor

Holborn Gate

330 High Holborn



Tel: 020 7759 2700/ 2701

Fax: 020 7759 2733



Added RJ 03/02/10

I hope this helps, but if you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact this address again or telephone HSE Infoline on 08453 450055.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Wilson