Home > Conspiracy > Doctor refuses airport scanner over cancer fear

Doctor refuses airport scanner over cancer fear

By Jaya Narain

Last updated at 1:43 AM on 1st July 2011

A hospital consultant was grounded after he refused to go through a ‘naked’ X-ray scanner at an airport, claiming it could give him cancer.

Tony Aguirre expected to be offered a traditional ‘pat-down’ search instead.

But he was not allowed to board the plane from Manchester to Zurich and was escorted out of the airport by police.

Grounded: Dr Antonio Aguirre was patted down by airport security but was not allowed on the plane after he refused to go through the X-ray scanner
Mr Aguirre, an eye specialist at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, said he was treated like a criminal because he was not prepared to accept a ‘radiation assault’.

He said: ‘X-rays are known to cause cancer and I think somebody will get cancer from this body scanner whether it’s me or someone else.’

It is mandatory for passengers to go through the full body scanners at Manchester, Gatwick and Heathrow airports, and staff there have been told that anyone who refuses should not be allowed to board.

The X-ray device scans through clothes, creating an image of the naked body and revealing any hidden objects.

The UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) insisted last year that the technology was safe because the exposure levels are so small. It has approved scanners for all passengers including mothers-to-be.

But recent studies have suggested that the ‘backscatter’ X-rays used in scanners could produce 20 times as much radiation as first thought.

Mr Aguirre said: ‘The Government maintains it is just a low dose of radiation.

‘But even if it is a low dose, and not 20 times higher than first calculated, I don’t want it because it is unnecessary. If it was necessary then a greater case could be made by the Government but since it isn’t necessary I decline.’

Mr Aguirre, who is originally from Spain, said the process was demeaning and undignified.

He said: ‘You shouldn’t be forced to expose yourself, and it raises moral and dignity issues.’

He pointed out that passengers in the U.S. may exercise their right to ‘opt out’ of a full body scan.

Mr Aguirre was flying to treat patients in Switzerland, and his wife had to book him another flight to Zurich.

He went from Liverpool where the scanners are not used.

EasyJet in Manchester refused to refund his £58.98 ticket after he was grounded.

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was the first airport to implement the scanners in 2007.

The officials analysing the X-rays are usually in a different room and are not supposed to be able to see the passengers being scanned, although they are in touch with security staff.

Various Muslim groups 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. 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’.

More than 221million passengers passed through airports in the UK during 2009.



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