Answer to Question #11502 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Security Screening

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

Q

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?

A

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

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 8 April 2016. 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.