The Thalidomide tragedy of the 1950s and 1960s served as an important lesson showing the need for independent, peer-reviewed study to confirm the efficacy and safety of biointrusive devices before they are widely deployed publicly.

To the editor:

The Thalidomide tragedy of the 1950s and 1960s served as an important lesson showing the need for independent, peer-reviewed study to confirm the efficacy and safety of biointrusive devices before they are widely deployed publicly.

Airport full-body scanners may be convenient and quick from the perspective of the users, but are they proven safe in the longer term for those scanned? Some say such scanners emit only trifling degrees of radiation. Maybe, in a perfect world, but technology isn’t always perfect.

Even radar scanners can have issues of operator error, equipment calibration and malfunction. A system that is mandated to invade the biospace of millions of traveling Americans may also be imperfect.

Hearsay from media pundits or others not scientifically trained does not count. Assurances from agencies or individuals with possible conflicts of interest do not count. Thorough, independent, peer-reviewed studies by qualified medical science experts do count.

Otherwise the potential damage to the nation’s health that can result from premature deployment of full-body scanners could easily outweigh security concerns. Some say no one knows what causes cancer. But cancers, sterility and other potential health issues can be legitimate concerns for the traveling public. If a bureaucracy ignores such concerns for the sake of expediency, it can easily serve to undermine the very public health safety is claims to protect. The unfortunate Thalidomide experience calls for no less than a thorough prior review of full-body scanners.