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Published: Thursday, 12/16/2010

Toledo Express Airport gets full-body scanning device

Controversial “full-body scanning” arrives Friday at Toledo Express Airport.

During a lunchtime news conference at the airport's passenger terminal, the Transportation Security Administration will demonstrate what it calls Advanced Imaging Technology and explain its procedures for protecting the privacy of travelers who submit to the video screening process as an alternative to pat-down searches before being allowed to board flights.

A single body-image scanning device then will be placed in service at the airport's security lane.

The use of such scanners at larger airports has been met with complaints that the imagery invades travelers' privacy by showing everything beneath their clothes, and that the devices themselves emit potentially harmful radiation.

But the TSA said the scanners' millimeter-wave technology uses “harmless electromagnetic waves” and enables non-contact searches for “metallic and non-metallic threats.”

“The energy projected by millimeter wave technology is thousands of times less than a cell phone transmission,” according to an agency statement.

TSA currently uses 464 such scanners at 75 airports across the United States in an effort to prevent travelers from carrying firearms, explosives, or other forbidden and potentially dangerous material aboard aircraft.

It installed the first such devices at the largest, busiest airports, but by the end of next year plans to have 1,000 of them in service throughout the country, said TSA spokesman James Fotenos.

Scanners already are in service at the Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Dayton airports — the latter activated just last week, the spokesman said.

Passengers who do not wish to go through the scanners retain the option to be searched physically instead, though at some airports that procedure has generated complaints about over-aggressive searches that some characterized as groping.

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