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Body scanners at heathrow

(20 Posts)
kittyonthebeam Fri 23-Jul-10 05:35:14

I am 32 weeks pregnant and would like to know if I will have to go through a body scanner (xrays) when I fly through LHR?

In both Dubai and Germany pregnant women get a pat down rather than being herded through the scanner. I am uncomfortable with using it.

I understand that unlike in the US, if I get singled out for a scan I can't opt out and will be denied to fly.

Could a medical certificate make a difference?

Any info greatly appreciated.

japhrimel Fri 23-Jul-10 06:00:51

Interesting. I had a look at the BAA website as I'll be flying out of Heathrow in September.

They say:

"Are there any issues if you are pregnant?

According to the DfT, "the dose received from the scanner is a very small fraction of that received every day from natural sources and is far lower than the permissible levels allowed by law for all types of people, including expectant mothers"."

www.heathrowairport.com/portal/page/Heathrow%5EGeneral%5EAirport+information%5EHeathrow+security%5ES ecurity+FAQs/76bb00df152dd010VgnVCM10000036821c0a____/448c6a4c7f1b0010VgnVCM200000357e120a____/76bb0 0df152dd010VgnVCM10000036821c0a____/448c6a4c7f1b0010VgnVCM200000357e120a____/#8a

It looks from the BAA website that there isn't a way out of it and refusal to be scanned means you can't fly. Hmmm.

japhrimel Fri 23-Jul-10 06:23:49

Sorry, that link seems to have gone a bit funny.

I found more info here from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/clinical-guidance/airport-full-body-scanners-and-pregnancy-query-bank

The DfT website doesn't seem to be working atm. All I get is errors.

japhrimel Fri 23-Jul-10 06:28:08

Here's an older MN thread on it:
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/pregnancy/905438-Are-full-body-scanners-in-airports-safe

I'm not very happy about this. The medical evidence & advice seems to be that levels are low but generally they'd suggest pregnant women avoid any sources of radiation that they can to just limit overall exposure. Given I'd be happy to submit to a pat-down or search in lieu of this scanner, I do think it's unfair to force pregnant women to go through it. I'll go through it if I have to, but I don't think I should have to!

cardamomginger Fri 23-Jul-10 08:45:29

Hi, I started that thread. In the end I contacted the manufacturers - not sure if they make ALL the scanners, but they made at least some of the ones that were relevant to us when we traveled:
"Please read through our Health and Safety information on the Secure 1000 Family of Products.
rapiscansystems.com/rapiscan-secure-1000-single-pose-health.html

The UK DfT has addressed your questions and a link is on the above page. Thanks.

-- Melissa Odegaard Marketing Communications Manager Rapiscan Systems 1901 Bell St Ste 325 Arlington, VA 22202 UNITED STATES of AMERICA Mobile: +1 570-250-3870 Fax: +1 413-556-2082 modegaard@rapiscansystems.com www.rapiscansystems.com"

Still not massively convinced..... In the end no one tried to scan me, but if they had pulled me over I have no idea what I would have done. If I were you, I'd look as pregnant as possible, if you see what I mean, so no one is in any doubt that yo are up the duff. That might make someone less likely to pull you over, either cos they also have doubts about safety or because they know you might refuse and can't face an argument???

kittyonthebeam Fri 23-Jul-10 09:05:38

I saw your thread cardamom re scanners but found it to be without much info.

Thank you for the link re Royal College and Rapiscan.

I think it is grossly unfair that pregnant women do not have the possibility of an opt out angry

I mean, I'm not going to blow me and my bump up on a passenger plane and the notion that if I have nothing to hide I should be fine with it makes me so cross.

I will try and get a medical cert from doctor saying I should not be exposed to any radiation due to high risk pregnancy.

I will also wear a clingy dress keeping arms and legs naked. Can't conceal a weapon then grin

However if they do select me I will refuse even if it means I miss my flight. I will kick up an almighty stink and you can all read about it in the DM: 'Raving pregnant lady detained by airport security' grin

FutureMum Fri 23-Jul-10 09:17:46

Hi there,

Earlier this year I went on holiday, including several flights (at least four) in UK and USA. I too wasn't sure what the effects of the scanner would be (if any) but decided to err on the side of caution. I asked the person just before the scanner gate if I could have a body search instead as I was pregnant. It means waiting an extra five minutes till a woman officer is ready to do your body search, but it was worth it for me because I didn't have to worry about the scanner effects. They were all friendly & there was no problem about it (I did have to take jacket and shoes off as usual, etc).

cardamomginger Fri 23-Jul-10 09:20:11

Be careful about getting them to say you are "high risk" - they might refuse to let you fly!!!

PixieCake Fri 23-Jul-10 10:16:46

You absolutely do not have to go through them.
I have done about 8 flights in my pregnancy so far, from Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, to places in both Europe and Asia.

At every single scanner I told the first person you come to (the one telling you to take your shoes off/helping with the trays) that I would rather not go through because I was pregnant (or patting my belly and saying 'baby' when language was a problem). Every time they called a female member of staff to escort me round the side and pat me down.

It was absolutely no problem, no one batted an eyelid and it didn't take any longer.

I was all geared up with my explanations etc but it appeared that they were very used to it.

kittyonthebeam Fri 23-Jul-10 10:42:25

True Cardamom blush
Hmmm...might have to consult our old family doctor for a better lie.

That's right FutureMum, as far as the normal grey scanners are concerned you can have a pat down body search. It's the new xray machines which they don't allow you to opt out from as far as I know. It's great you got through without trouble.

Pixie, another fortunate lady who got around it. Well, I guess I will try. No problem from continental Europe side and leg into UK. Will be proactive and ask the first person in sight to be considerate and pat me down. Fingers crossed. Will update by next week.

goodlifemummy Fri 23-Jul-10 11:11:32

I am currently grounded from flying at Heathrow airport and the pg girls go through the gate rather than through the scanner, having said that, we go through a LOT of times in the course of the pg, so maybe that is why we don't have to go through, we get a pat down. Just ask before you go through security, I'm sure they will be nice about it.

elvisgirl Fri 23-Jul-10 11:26:07

If you are flying longhaul you will get more radiation dose from the flight itself than the scan, due to flying at high altitude & not having the additional protection of the lower atmosphere from cosmic radiation. In fact the additional cosmic radiation you will get could be said to be more hazardous as it includes high energy particles in comparison to the x-rays from the scanner (the interaction with tissue is different for particle radiation rather than rays). Some people say sitting in the centre section of the plane farthest away from the walls will give you a bit of extra shielding from cosmic radiation.
I am work in radiation protection btw & would have no issue personally with having the security scan. I have also known of cases where babies have gone through luggage scanners (which have higher energies to penetrate the luggage, particularly in Middle East countries where often a baby is carried in a luggage-type bag, & also adults doing stunts (Tommy Lee I think it was) & the any health effect is negligible. So basically as a radiation protection professional my opinion is that there would be no adverse effect from the radiation dose received from undergoing the scan.

pinkpeony Fri 23-Jul-10 11:58:16

You can refuse to use the scanner and go through the regular gate / have body check. Plus at 32 weeks you probably have a visible bump so they will understand. I have refused it when not pg as didn't like the idea of radiation and would certainly refuse it when pg.

japhrimel Fri 23-Jul-10 15:26:53

I understand that the dose of radiation is low, but the opinion of quite a few OBGYNs and some other country's transport authorities seems to be that when you're pregnant, you should limit radiation exposure as far as you are able. So if you don't have to fly an awful lot, you shouldn't, for example. So possibly pregnant women shouldn't be forced to have an extra dose of radiation.

I think I'll ask to not go through the normal scanner and hopefully then they won't pick me to go through the body scanner!

anythingwithagiraffeonit Fri 23-Jul-10 17:09:35

In my head, going through the body scanner pregnant would look sort of awesome :p I'm not saying I want to go through it, but I'd like to see it... lol

MrsGangly Fri 23-Jul-10 17:35:38

Flying itself does expose you to more radiation as well, don't forget that. It really is minimal though, so I have wandered through them with a clear conscience.

Pogue909 Sat 24-Jul-10 19:59:22

It is obvious the difference between an xray body scanner and the standard metal detector that's been in airports for years?

I flew through Heathrow - Dubai - Maldives last year (5 months pregnant) and am pretty certain I only encountered metal detectors and nothing involving an x-ray.

Pogue909 Sat 24-Jul-10 20:30:45

OK - ignore last - I have just looked them up and can see there is a clear difference.
Personally, I had no probs going through the standard metal detectors. My understand is that they don't use x-ray technology.

I would have a BIG problem going through the x-ray body scanners though. I accept in-flight radiation as inevitable if I choose to fly, but I really wouldn't want to add to that amount.

What can you do if there is no opt-out? I like your idea of looking as preggers as possible in a clingy dress. Also hold your pregnancy notes obviously as you approach.

Chances are you won't be picked anyway - fingers crossed.

annerinya Sat 24-May-14 17:31:47

I have noticed that this is a thread from 2010, so quite a bit of time have passed since.

I have been picked at LHR after failing metal detector. Still do not know what have triggered it... I only had silver earlings on. I was not able to opt out although I looked VERY pregnant being on the 7th month heavy with twins...

Flying again soon... will ensure I have nothing on me to trigger the scan again.

ruthsmumkath Mon 26-May-14 06:28:54

I live in Dubai and travelled several times this pregnancy - in Dubai always patted down. In LHR, Geneva and Manchester - had to go through body scanners.

Kath

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