Answer to Question #11502 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Security Screening
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Oftentimes at courthouses, my folders will get stuck in the rubber flap shield when the folders go through the x-ray machine. In the past, I have stuck my hand very close to the flaps, possibly touching them, to pull my folders out. Am I exposing myself to radiation by having my hand so close to the inside of the machine? Or would I have to stick my hand on the other side of the rubber flaps to really expose myself to an increased risk from the radiation?
The x-ray machine that you refer to is known as a cabinet x-ray system. A cabinet x-ray system must be manufactured so that it is in compliance with the regulations of the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Because of this, the amount of radiation dose you would receive in the scenario you have described is very, very, very small and poses no radiation risk to you, a member of the general public. In fact, a cabinet x-ray system is manufactured, per the regulations, to assure that the system does not pose a radiation hazard to you or the worker operating the system.
As for sticking your hand beyond the flaps, the system operator should be able to provide you with directions on how to proceed if your folders get stuck while going through the system.
For further information from the FDA on cabinet x-ray systems, see the FDA website.
Thomas F. O'Connell
Certified Health Officer