U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) today again called for an independent study of the health effects of the airport scanner machines that emit ionizing radiation.

In a November hearing of the Homeland Security Committee, TSA Administrator John Pistole agreed to initiate an independent study on the health effects of backscatter Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. But about a week later, however, the Administrator told the Senate Commerce Committee that a forthcoming report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General would likely be a sufficient substitute. That report was released today.

Senator Collins issued the following statement:

“I have expressed my concerns repeatedly in the past over the use of backscatter AIT machines that emit ionizing radiation when there is an alternative screening technology available.

“This report is not the report I requested. I have asked for – and introduced legislation to require — an independent assessment of the health effects of this technology on frequent flyers, vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, and TSA employees.

“An independent study is needed to protect the public and to determine what technology is worthy of taxpayer dollars. Among other things, such as study should examine the risk of backscatter x-ray technology from a public health perspective in addition to the potential risk to individuals and TSA employees. Surely passengers should also be well informed of their screening options. Signs should be placed in such a way that passengers understand and can decide if they want to go through the machines or request alternative screening.”