- EU introduces ban while danger of X-ray machines is fully assessed
- Radiation experts first warned of the risks 13 years ago
- Millions of passengers forced to pass through scanners worldwide
- Manchester told it can use its 16 scanners for another year
- Cancer risk highest in the U.S. where there are 250 machines
Europe has banned controversial airport 'strip-search' scanners over fears the X-ray technology could cause cancer.
Experts have found the body scanners emit low doses of radiation and the EU has told member states not to install them until the risks are assessed. They will be completely banned in April if experts rule they are dangerous.
Millions of people worldwide are believed to have passed through the security scanners. In the UK passengers are required to do so if asked.
The scanners were introduced in a security crackdown after incidents such as the attempted 'underwear bomb' terror plot in 2009.
They were used at Heathrow but scrapped amid complaints about invasion of privacy. They have also been tested in Germany, France, Italy, Finland and Holland.
Research suggests that because of the large number of scanners in the U.S. - there are 250 - up to 100 passengers a year could get cancer.
Britain, which argues the scans are a 'proportionate response to a very real terrorist threat', could be hit with a fine from the European courts if it ignores the ban.
THE AIRPORT SCANNERS THAT TOOK OFF ACROSS THE WORLD
In July, hospital consultant Tony Aguirre told how he was grounded after he refused to go through a 'naked' X-ray scanner at Manchester Airport, claiming it could give him cancer.
He was not allowed to board the plane to Zurich and was escorted out of the airport by police.
Various Muslim groups have also protested against the scanners and some Islamic scholars have forbidden Muslim travellers to pass through full body scanners on the grounds that they violate religious laws.
Last year two Muslim women who refused to be scanned on religious grounds were barred from a flight to Pakistan.
Last November technology blog Gizmodo revealed 100 images showing visitors to a Florida courthouse standing inside a scanner machine as it took their photograph - with their intimate body parts clearly visible.
Gizmodo applied under the Freedom of Information Act and put a selection online, taking care to mask the identities of all involved.
A female passenger also claimed she was made to feel like a terrorist for bringing breast milk she had pumped earlier through security at Phoenix airport.
Stacey Armato had 12 ounces of breast milk with her and as per TSA guidelines, she requested the milk not be passed through the X-ray scanner because of possible radiation.
And last month, a TSA agent faced dismissal after finding a sex toy in woman's bag and leaving her a note saying: 'Get your freak on girl'.
At Manchester passengers selected for scanning are banned from flying if they refuse to pass through the device.
The airport says around 10 passengers have been unable to board their flight after refusing tp pass through the scanners, known as 'back scatter' machines.
A spokesperson for the airport said: 'Extensive tests by the UK Health Protection Agency and the U.S. health authorities have already confirmed that back scatter body scanners pose a negligible risk to human health.
'It is irresponsible to suggest that because Europe has yet to complete its own health study, our passengers should be concerned.
'European legislation issued this week has approved millimetre wave, another form of body scanner technology, for permanent use at airports.
'While its study is underway, an extension of the trial of back scatter body scanners at Manchester Airport has been approved by the European Commission until November 2012.
'Given that all of the relevant authorities support the use of back scatter body scanners, the trial will continue.'
The EU has ruled that for the time being, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are approved for use.
The use of any scanner is only allowed if they do not store, retain, copy, print or retrieve images.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, the EU commissioner responsible for transport, defended the ban, saying: 'Security scanners are not a panacea but they do offer a real possibility to reinforce passenger security.
'Security scanners are a valuable alternative to existing screening methods and are very efficient in detecting both metallic and non-metallic objects.
'It is still for each member state or airport to decide whether or not to deploy security scanners, but these new rules ensure that where this new technology is used it will be covered by EU wide standards on detection capability as well as strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights.
'Experience to date shows that passengers and staff generally see security scanners as a convenient method of screening.'
The first X-ray body scanner was developed in 1992 by Steven W Smith. He sold the technology and rights to Rapiscan Systems, which now manufactures and distributes the device.
Fears about the health risks were raised in the U.S. as far back as 1998 when the machine known as the Secure 1000 was evaluated by a panel of radiation safety experts brought together by the Food and Drug Administration.
They all expressed concerns about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle that humans should not be X-rayed unless there is a medical purpose.
The machine’s inventor told panellists that the machine would most probably not be widely used for many years to come.
Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was the first airport to implement the scanners in 2007.
In the U.S. the Transportation Security Administration scanners sparked a heated debate over security concerns versus travellers' privacy when they were first brought in autumn 2010. The machines have also been installed in some courtrooms.
In response, New Jersey's legislature issued a resolution urging Congress to review the programme.
Study group Electronic Privacy Information Center then filed a lawsuit to suspend the use of scanners at U.S. airports pending an independent review.
In February 2011, a trial of new 'non-intrusive' body scanners started at Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C. before they were rolled out permanently in July.
New York's Newark Liberty International airport followed in September, where more than eight million passengers boarded planes last year.
Also in September, BAA, which owns Heathrow, said it will test the new 'privacy-friendly' scanner.
The Italian government had planned to install full body scanners at all airports and train stations but removed them from airports, calling them 'slow and ineffective'.