Travel Trends

Poll Finds Nearly One in Four Americans Would Refuse a Full Body Scan at Airport Security

Roughly one-quarter of Americans say they would refuse a full body scan using new airport body scanners and 14.9 percent said new airport security measures have them concerned for their health, according to the Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll.

Reuters
Thomson Reuters and NPR conduct a monthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.

The survey, which asked respondents their opinions and concerns regarding flight safety, found that the main reasons for resistance to new scanners are exposure to radiation (22.6 percent), personal privacy violations (17.1 percent) and concerns the scanners violated their 4th Amendment rights (13.3 percent). Forty-seven percent of respondents expressed no concern with the technology.

Additionally, only 7.8 percent said they have health concerns associated with flying.  However 11 percent of all respondents said they had become sick as a direct result of air travel.  Of those Americans who expressed concern, the top five health risks cited were crashing (21.1 percent), contracting the flu or a cold (16 percent), air quality (7 percent), anxiety (6.8 percent) and blood clots (5 percent). 

"While I applaud the survey participants' concern with radiation exposure, these scanners are safe.  Based on the amount of radiation these machines produce, a traveler would have to take 2,000 plane rides before being subjected to the equivalence of a single chest x-ray," said Raymond Fabius, M.D., chief medical officer at the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters.  "The much more serious health concerns associated with flying are exposure to communicable illnesses and blood clots during long air excursions.  By avoiding traveling when sick and exercising in your seat, these risks can be minimized."

To date, the Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, abortion, vaccines, food allergies, and organic and genetically modified foods.

The Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Thomson Reuters PULSE(SM) Healthcare Survey, an independently funded, nationally representative telephone poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare utilization from more than 100,000 US households annually. Survey questions are developed in conjunction with NPR. The figures in this month's poll are based on 3,013 participants interviewed from November 1-13, 2011. The margin of error is 1.8 percent.

For a copy of the flight safety survey, visit: http://healthcare.thomsonreuters.com/npr/.



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