According to a new article over at ProPublica, the TSA is removing the X-ray body scanners currently installed at major airports and is replacing them with safer millimeter wave scanners. The scanners zap travelers with significantly less radiation and should speed up time at security checkpoints. They also alleviate several privacy concerns by displaying a generic cartoon of a body. They’re already installed at LAX, O’Hare, Dulles and JFK. That’s great! But less great is the pricetag for the USA: the new scanners could cost up to $245 million, and the old scanners weren’t cheap either.
At least the old X-ray based scanners won’t totally go to waste: according to TSA spokesman David Casteleter, the old equipment will be moved to smaller airports over a period of time. But considering that hundreds of scanners went unused in warehouses earlier this year, it’s not like the TSA is has a history of efficiency with its machine purchases.
The new scanners are known as millimeter-wave scanners, and they use radio frequencies closer to the cell phone spectrum than the old scanners did. The old scanners were prohibited by the European Union last year because of concerns about health risks. According to Propublica, there are no known health risks associated with the new machines produced by L-3 Communications. For the most part, this is great news for travelers: the new scanners are more private, they’re saver, and they’re faster.
Read the whole story over at ProPublica, which also has a great breakdown of the differences between the two different scanners.