Whole Body Scanners Coming to Hopkins Airport

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The next time you go through airport security at Hopkins, you might be asked to go through a whole body image scan...that can see beneath your clothes. The machines seem like something out of science fiction.

You go into a little booth and stand still. In another room, a Transportation Security Administration official gets a picture of your body --- It's kind of a cross between an X-ray and a nude photo......revealing any metallic or non-metallic threats.

Use of the machines here is just a test for the next 30-60 days. After that, the TSA will look at how well they worked, and how passengers reacted. They're also optional--you can still get the traditional pat-down if you'd prefer.

The full body scanners have generated some controversy. They are seen as invasive by some groups including the American Civil Liberties Union. Then there are others who worry about safety.

TSA spokesman Jon Allen says there are two machines using different technologies, and he says both are safe.

ALLEN: Both of these--the millimeter wave uses electromagnetic waves. The amount of energy involved is 1/10,000 that used in a cell phone call. The backscatter technology uses low-level x-rays. Single scan is the equivalent to approximately two minutes on board an airplane at altitude.

The technology has been piloted at various other airports for the last two years, and has been well-received by the vast majority of passengers. If the TSA deems it a success, it could become more common.

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