U.S. Schools Installing “airport-style body scanners” for Weapons Detection Despite Radiation Exposure Risks

By B.N. Frank

Concerns about radiation exposure from airport body scanners have been ongoing for over a decade.  From the Environmental Health Trust webpage on Health Risks of Airport Security Full-body X-ray Screening Systems:

In April 2010, when screening using X- ray technology was in use, scientists at the University of California – San Francisco wrote to President Obama, calling for an independent review of the full body scanners’ radiation risks. The experts noted that children, pregnant women, and the elderly are especially at risk “from the mutagenic effects of the [body scanners’] X-rays.”

Nevertheless, body scanners are currently being used in some American schools and being considered for others.

From Gov Tech:

Body Scanners May Be Coming to Guilford County High Schools

A school district in North Carolina is seeking proposals for a touchless scanner that could automatically detect weapons without requiring visitors to unpack purses or other bags, to be paid for with COVID relief funds.

Jessie Pounds, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

(TNS) — Guilford County Schools is looking at adding body scanners at its high schools.

Bid documents posted on the district’s website show in its request for proposals, which closed May 12, the district sought a company that would be able to provide a touchless system that could automatically detect weapons without requiring visitors to unpack purses or other bags. Under the district’s specifications, the scanner would detect items such as guns, pipes and knives, but not activate for items like belts, keys, wallets and cell phones. The district doesn’t define who would count as a visitor.

In the request, the district said it was interested in trying out the scanners at its 19 traditional high schools and academies, and if that trial proved successful, the program could be expanded to the district’s 23 middle schools.

District spokeswoman Nora Shoptaw said Thursday night in a text message that the district sought information from vendors about scanners as part of its planning for spending of federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

She said the district wants to find out about the availability of scanners that could “improve school safety without a negative impact to the school environment.”

Shoptaw said the district would hold a public discussion before buying equipment.

“Safety has consistently been a priority in Guilford County Schools,” she wrote.

Deena Hayes-Greene, chairwoman of the Guilford County Board of Education, said Wednesday that board members had a recent opportunity to “sample” a body scanner as they walked through one to get to their regular meeting.

She confirmed that the school administration has been looking into the possibility of body scanners for schools as part of a broader, ongoing exploration of possible school safety strategies. Hayes-Greene said she wants to support whatever research indicates will make students safer, whether that turns out to be body scanners or other ideas.

Using airport-style body scanners in U.S. schools is a recent development, with the first of them being put in place in a couple of South Carolina school districts in 2020, according to an article on the Slate news website.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bought 21 body scanners for just under $5 million, according to WCNC-Channel 36. According to the station, the district started putting in the first scanners in its high schools about two months ago. On May 2, the second day after body scanners were installed at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, a scanner detected a loaded gun carried by a student, who was then arrested.

The TV station reports that some students have said they have seen longer lines to get into school due to the devices. In a response to the station, a spokesman said the reports of lines represented “growing pains” as the district rolled out the devices and that, “all of our schools are reporting that the new system is going well and not interfering with daily instruction.”

©2022 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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