New scanners coming to JIA

Full-body imaging scanners will appear at Juneau International Airport early this year, according to a release from the airport.

The devices will be installed and become operational on or about Jan. 13, the release states.

The technology used is the newer millimeter wave technology. Millimeter units use electromagnetic waves to create a generic image for all passengers, the release states. The machines will highlight areas of concern in yellow on the generic image it produces, according to the release.

This is instead of the backscatter devices also in use at U.S. airports. Backscatter units use low-level X-rays to create a “reflection of the body displayed on the monitor,” according to the Transportation Security Administration’s website. The backscatter machines have raised concerns about passenger privacy and safety. The images produced are under the clothes, though they produce a white, ghostlike image, an image TSA says resembles “a chalk etching” on its website.

Some scientists and at least two airline pilots unions have also raised concerns about the safety of the low-level X-rays used by backscatter machines, according to a Nov. 12, 2010 CNN.com report, though the TSA stands behind the safety of the backscatter machines.

The release states the millimeter wave technology machines that will be used at JIA are “safe for all passengers, including children and pregnant women.”

Passengers may still opt out of using the new machines, according to the TSA website. Those that do will be subject to other screening, including a pat-down, the website states.

These millimeter wave machines are in use at 68 U.S. airports, including Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Fairbanks International Airport will also be receiving the machines soon, the release states.

TSA in Juneau plans to provide further information in the coming week, the release states.

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