What's the truth?
CBS News asked leading radiation safety experts from MIT and the respected Health Physics Society for the real scoop on radiation levels from the new scanners and 12 other every day radiation sources, many of which you probably never thought about.
Keep reading, and be prepared for some big surprises...
Airport ScanDespite the hype, the radiation risk from the airport scanners is very, very small.
One scan from a typical "backscatter" security scanner might deliver 0.005 to 0.01 millirem - far, far below the 10,000 millirem that is considered the danger threshold.
"There is no known risk" from being scanned, Dr. Francis Marre, former director of radiation safety at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells CBS News. "It's never been demonstrated."
Radioactive WaterWorried about airport scanners? What about every day drinking water?
It turns out that pure drinking water contains trace amounts of radium and other radioactive elements.
Drinking three glasses of water a day for a year might give you a cumulative exposure of about 0.045 millirems, that's at least five times more than the dose from an airport scanner.
But keep in mind, it's still way beneath the 10,000 millirem line where there is danger.
Grand Central TereminalSome buildings are made with stone known to emit tiny amounts of radiation. Case in point: New York's landmark train station, Grand Central Terminal. Wait for your train for an hour there, and you might be exposed to about 0.06 millirem, at least six times more than an airport scanner.
Nearby Power PlantsPower plants are permitted to emit tiny quantities of radiation. In fact, government says people living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant can be exposed to up to 0.1 millirem daily.
And because coal contains traces of radioactive substances, coal-fired power plants emit radiation too. In a recent test, people living within 50 miles of a coal-fired plant in Wyoming were shown to be exposed to 0.16 millirem.
A Day in the LifeNo matter where you live, you're exposed to low levels of "background" radiation - from air, soil, water, and cosmic radiation that bombards the earth from outer space.
In New York City and other communities at or near sea level, you might get about 0.8 millirem a day, at least 8 times the dose from airport scanners.
At higher elevations, the cosmic radiation is more intense - because there's less atmosphere above to shield you. In the "mile-high" city of Denver, for example, you might be exposed to 0.9 millirems a day.
Dental X-RayOne panoramic X-ray might deliver 2 millirem. Conventional dental X-rays deliver considerably less - about 0.5 each, both are much more than an airport scanner.
Sharing Your BedBelieve it or not, the human body emits radiation. That's because it metabolizes potassium, and the potassium found in bananas and other foods and water contains radioactive as well as non-radioactive atoms.
One year of bedding down with someone else might expose you to 2 millirems, at least 200 times the dose from an airport scanner.
FlyingFor many radiation experts the argument over airport scanners makes no sense since the radiation received from flying in the plane is much higher.
That's because cosmic radiation to which we're all exposed every day gets more intense the higher you go. If you climb a mountain or go up in an airplane, your exposure will be elevated.
Taking a flight from New York to Los Angeles might expose you to between 3 and 4 millirems, at least 300 to 400 times higher than the airport scanner.
To put that level into context, one minute of flying at 35,000 feet might expose you to as much radiation as you'd get from one airport scan.
Chest X-RayA typical chest X-ray delivers about 10 millirems. An X-ray of the hips might deliver eight times as much. That's because the bones are bigger and so require more radiation to produce good images.
Again, its all far more than an airport scanner.
MammogramA standard four-image mammogram (two views of each breast) delivers about 13 millirems, at least 1300 times as much as the airport scanner.
Space FlightPlanning to spend some time in Earth orbit? If so, you should know that astronauts get exposed to quite a bit of cosmic radiation. How much? One day of orbiting at 335 miles - typical for the Space Shuttle - could deliver 200 millirems. That's at least 20,000 times the dose from an airport scanner.
CT ScanDoctors use ultrafast computed tomography (CT) to check for calcium in the coronary arteries - a red flag for heart disease. The scans can be life-saving but they come at a cost, radiation-wise. One scan can deliver 400 millirems.
How about a CT of the abdomen? That can deliver about 1,000 milirems. That's at least 100,000 more juice than an airport scanner.