Doctor grounded after claiming airport scanners 'cause cancer'

AOL Travel

A hospital consultant who refused through a 'naked' X-ray scanner at an airport because they 'cause cancer' was banned from boarding his plane.

Tony Aguirre says he didn't want to be scanned because he believes that the machines can cause cancer. He asked for a traditional 'pat-down' search instead - but he was refused.

In the end, he was not allowed to board his Easyjet flight from Manchester to Zurich and was escorted out of the airport by police.

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'.

Speaking in the Daily Mail, 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 said the process was demeaning and undignified.

'You shouldn't be forced to expose yourself, and it raises moral and dignity issues,' he said.

He pointed out that passengers in the US are allowed 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.

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