A call from the Australian & International Pilots Association has alerted us to serious health and safety concerns with the proposed X-raying of passengers and airline staff at Australian airports.
The surveillance machines were banned in Europe last November.
The TWU has around 200 pilot members, including those flying aircraft for Skywest, National Jet/Cobham and Skippers Aviation.
As all of us who travel by air know, the current airport screening involves going through a metal detection system.
No x-raying is involved in this process and no radiation waves. But that could be about to change and the move to x-raying is of particular concern to pilots and flights services staff.
By the very nature of their work people in the occupations are required to frequently submit themselves to the x-raying apparatus.
Alarm bells are ringing and a quick Google on the internet will reveal that the concerns of AIPA and now the TWU are shared by many other groups.
According to one website blog, "the proposed X-ray machines are hugely expensive, closet-sized zappers that can find the plastic bombs hidden in grandma's underpants, while delivering a smacking dose of ionizing radiation to her breasts and thyroid gland."
"The snooper X-rays penetrate a few centimetres into the flesh and reflect off the skin to form a naked body image for security personnel to inspect."
These machines are already being field tested at several U.S airports, including JFK, LAX and Orlando."
"A company engineer quoted says, "some fliers could be "fried" several times in one day. Frequent fliers could get hundreds of times each year. Pregnant women, infants, the chronically ill and immune suppressed would get the rays."
"Officials must naturally defend compulsory passenger X-rays as harmless. But they are signing no guarantees because ionizing radiation in the X-ray spectrum damages and mutates both chromosomal DNA and structural proteins in human cells."
Heavy stuff, but where there is smoke there is fire and the TWU will be joining other unions in demanding a NO RISK TO HEALTH GUARANTEE from the relevant authorities.
If those guarantees are not forthcoming we will certainly be taking a stand against the machines. And that may mean advising our members to ban them.