Answer to Question #10216 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Security Screening

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q

There is an x-ray screener at work and recently after a superior's order we're being forced to introduce even our lunch totes into the machine. It wouldn't be worrisome if it happened every now and then, but we have to do it on a weekly basis. I was just wondering if doing it for an extended period of time would be harmful, considering the health risks of radiation exposure?

A
There is no harm to you from handling the tote or eating the food after it has gone through an x-ray screening unit.

There are two reasons for this answer. The first is that the amount of radiation to which the food and tote are being exposed, even on a daily basis, isn't enough to cause those items to be changed in any way that would be harmful if you touched them or ate the food.

Second, there is no radiation "left over," so neither the tote nor the food is radioactive after being through the scanner, so you won't be exposed to any radiation as a result.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist
Answer posted on 20 April 2012. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.