Radiation from airport body scanners poses no threat to health, US officials insisted this week, as European legislators called for curbs on the use of the controversial machines.

The US Transportation Security Administration said May 24 that every x-ray backscatter unit was operating "well within applicable national safety standards" after previous test reports which showed anomalies provoked concerns.

The new tests were ordered in an attempt to ease fears among the traveling public that the levels of radiation used in the machines is dangerously high, although it is unlikely to satisfy those who object to the scanners on privacy grounds.

Such claims were bolstered in Europe this week by a statement from the European Parliament's Transport Committee, which called for "strict safeguards" on the use of the scanners.

The influential committee of MEPs said that "health and fundamental rights must be safeguarded along with personal data, dignity and privacy," insisting that images must be destroyed as soon as the individual has passed through security control.

The committee also said that passengers should be given the right to refuse body scanning in favor of other screening methods, a proposal which would change the rules currently in place at some airports in Britain and some flights from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

X-ray scanners, which make up around half of the scanners currently in use in the US, should be prohibited in the EU for health reasons, lawmakers suggested.

Later this year, MEPs will review new rules on body scanners proposed by the European Commission, with the Transport Committee describing its findings as an "advance signal" of their wishes.

Information on body scanners and safety from TSA: http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/ait/safety.shtm

Information on body scanners from the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air/index_en.htm

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