X-ray use for security is halted

X-ray use for security is halted

Public security checks using X-rays have been stopped at Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, Sichuan province. [Photo/China Daily]


Checkpoints at airport, train stations in Sichuan give up radiation screening after safety outcry

Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, Sichuan province, stopped using X-rays in public security checks on Thursday, according to Gong Yitao, a staff member in the airport's publicity department.

Although Gong offered no further details, the airport apparently made the change in response to a circular issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Wednesday to the Environmental Protection Bureau of Sichuan province telling it to stop using X-ray machines for security screening.

On Wednesday, after the ministry issued the circular, all railway stations in Chengdu stopped using X-rays, according to Tian Xiaochuan, an official at Chengdu Railway Station North.

The circular was issued by the ministry after many passengers complained that X-rays posed a health threat.

At train station and airport checkpoints in Chengdu, passengers were required to stand in front of a machine for about 10 seconds.

All passengers, including pregnant women, were subjected to the procedure without being informed about what the facility was or what it was doing.

The maker of the equipment claimed it used "weak photon emissions", but Zhou Hong, head of the B-Ultrasonic Department at Third People's Hospital of Chengdu, said no such thing exists, and the emissions from the facility were in fact X-rays.

"The producer changed the name of X-rays to 'weak photon', " Zhou said, adding that he had been scanned by an X-ray machine twice in the Shuangliu airport this year.

"Using X-ray for the checks is harmful to human health and is banned in other countries," he said.

The United States started using X-rays for public security checks to discover weapons after the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attack. But because of public opposition and the development of more sophisticated technology, the equipment was banned.

Contact the writers at huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn

By Huang Zhiling and Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

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