"Have you seen and understood the science behind this and where this figure comes from and the research backing it up? I don't trust a commercial company to supply me "safe" figures on their own (radioactive) products. Didn't the tobacco companies do the same with their product?"
I have read the letter sent to John Holdren as well as the response. I also read a fair bit of the supporting material (it is incredibly dry and there is only so much I can take) as well as some other opinions, research etc.
I didn't get the impression that the advisory or regulatory bodies were sponsored by the industry. Though I can't say for certain one way or the other, after all that is how these things often work and I have not looked too deeply into its members.
Have I seen the science? No, I was not there, nor have I seen any footage of the researchers, scientists and advisory boards in action.
Did I understand the science? I haven't spent years pouring over the research and gaining expert like insight, but I understand the principles and can see the logic of both sides of the argument. And understand enough to draw the conclusion that neither is conclusive and subject to interpretation.
I don't think it is black and white due to the huge range of factors and considerations. From the methods (as stated in previous posts) used to measure effective radiation doses to the control the operators have over the scanners (very little it would seem other than the number of times they scan you), the tolerances in the equipment, the technicians that calibrate them, the individuals sensitivity to radiation, the amount of exposure to the scanners and other sources of x-rays. The list goes on and time will tell.
I also recall more than one occasion when products, chemicals or processes were hailed as safe or even beneficial and the opposite turned out to be true, with long and protracted legal battles ensuing as people tried to seek restitution.
I take all of this with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose (no pun intended) of scepticism. Hence why I said "if the response is to be believed".
"Do the security people get to go in first? After all, if its safe it should be ok for them."
I had thought of doing that but if the scanners really are harmful I wouldn't wish to increase the operators exposure for my peace of mind.
I also considered the option of asking for a written guarantee from the operators that the machine was safe and that they would indemnify me against any future health problems. I Suspect however that that would just be taken as a refusal to co-operate and would be met with stony-walled officialdom and the loss of any chance of catching your flight. (Remember in the UK we have no alternative - scanner or the door) Not only that but any future health consequences would be difficult to attribute to airport scanners unless there are a hell of a lot of cases.
I also considered asking to be scanned by a passive millimetre wave scanner as an alternative, however I discovered that the definition of passive isn't what I understand it to be when used in reference to a millimetre wave scanner and that that device actively bombards you with potentially damaging microwave radiation.