Human Security Screening Using Ionising Radiation

Human imaging for security screening purposes using ionising radiation

Activities that cause humans to be exposed to ionising radiation need to be justified and optimised.

The justification principle requires that no situation involving a planned exposure of persons to radiation should be introduced unless it provides an overall net benefit to the individuals exposed or to society to offset any radiation detriment it causes.

The ARPANSA guidance document Justification and Optimisation of Practices – Human Imaging for Security Screening Purposes Using Ionising Radiation (endorsed by the Radiation Health Committee) should be applied to the proposed use of any ionising radiation security screening system (such as a backscatter x-ray or transmission x-ray scanner) used on humans for the purposes of counter-terrorism and national security. The guidance proposes that such systems should only be available for use by appropriate law enforcement, security or border protection authorities.

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The guidance is intended to advise applicants who wish to operate these systems within Australia of the matters to be addressed in justifying their use.  Any case put forward by an applicant to justify a proposed use should be assessed by the appropriate Australian radiation regulator (Commonwealth, State or Territory) to determine whether the human imaging is justified and prior to the regulator issuing any authorisation for its use.

The use of any ionising radiation security screening system by a Commonwealth entity or Commonwealth contractor is subject to the requirements of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.  The use of such systems by any other entity is subject to the laws of the State or Territory in which the use is proposed.