As new government directives are now mandating full body (terahertz) scanning (or pat down searches) of our private parts on all US inbound flights, a recent research article in arXiv points to potential negative health effects from the new technology. Terahertz waves penetrate non-conducting material like clothing, but then they deposit energy in the skin. Now researchers at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown that terahertz radiation may be able to do some serious damage to the DNA it encounters when bouncing off your body
Physics arXiv Blog explains:
Alexandrov [Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico –ed.] and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they’ve found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That’s a jaw dropping conclusion.
And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.
More at Physics arXiv Blog…
Full article in arXiv Biological Physics: DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field