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Facts on TSA X-ray Safety

Tuesday, December 07, 2010
bag in X ray

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses X-ray technology on people and baggage daily in an effort to find items that could cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft. Some are asking how safe this technology is how and how we maintain it to ensure there is no excessive radiation exposure for workers or the traveling public. So, I’d like to use this post to address those questions with facts provided by TSA’s director of occupational safety, health and environment, Jill Segraves.

  • Before TSA decides to use a new technology, procurement specifications are developed that include requirements to meet the national radiation safety standard. The requirements are validated by manufacturers through third party testing or through testing arranged by TSA, to ensure it meets national safety standards.
  • After deciding to use new technology that has proven to be safe and meets applicable standards, the manufacturer then will conduct validation tests on each individual unit in the factory during their quality assurance process before the unit is shipped to TSA.
  • For the carry-on and checked baggage x-ray systems and the general-use backscatter advanced imaging technology equipment, the factory tests, post-installation tests and regular preventive maintenance mentioned above all include radiation safety surveys. These surveys verify that each unit operates within specifications, is installed correctly and continues operating according to specifications for the life of the unit. When the technology operates as designed, the dose to any member of the general public, system operators, or other employees falls well below the national standard for safety.
  • The regular preventive maintenance checks, including radiation safety surveys, are performed at least once every 12 months; after any maintenance that affects the radiation shielding, shutter mechanism, or x-ray production components; after any incident that may have damaged the system; after a system is moved or at the request of any employee.
  • In addition, TSA partnered with the U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional) to conduct independent radiation surveys and inspections to confirm the regular testing performed by TSA. Health Physicists from the the U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional) perform the surveys and inspections.
  • The Public Health Command’s Health Physicists also check the indicators, controls, labeling, and observe system operators to ensure proper operating procedures are followed. The Health Physicists are also gathering area radiation dose data by mounting dosimeters within the inspection zone (that area only occupied by the individual undergoing the screening and delineated by the yellow bordered floor mat) on certain equipment.
  • Over the past two years, Health Physicists performed radiation surveys and inspections of 437 carry-on luggage and checked baggage systems at 34 airports during screening operations, and observed system operation and work practices. The Health Physicists work has thus far confirmed TSA testing that shows all of these systems operating well within safety standards.
  • On top of all these steps, more than 1,100 TSOs at six airports have participated in a mandatory personal radiation dosimetry study over the past year. The results of both the dosimetry study and other surveys to date reveal that TSA systems are in compliance with safety standards.

On a related note, a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control just a year after TSA was stood up in the aftermath of 9/11 (between August 2003 and August 2004) has been getting some attention recently. The study came about after TSA requested it when management and other employees expressed concerns about their safety on the job. NIOSH looked at the levels of radiation emissions from Explosives Detection Systems (EDS) and evaluated employee exposure to radiation at airports during baggage screening.

Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) from 12 airports were highly engaged in this study. They chose the airports to include in the study, provided valuable input, and assisted the NIOSH researchers during the on-site surveys. The report was released on October 1, 2008.You can read the report here. NIOSH made several recommendations that TSA has since implemented.

Some of the information below duplicates some of the information I mentioned previously but I am including it here to show steps taken since the completion of the study in 2004:

  • TSA has implemented key recommendations from NIOSH, including formalizing a comprehensive radiation safety program to meet OSHA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requirements and evaluating TSO radiation exposure levels at selected airports through an additional year-long dosimetry study that commenced in April 2009.
  • TSA took additional steps to ensure safe working conditions for our workforce, including:
    • Adding EDS safety training to baggage screening courses;
    • Increasing the number of service technicians equipped with radiation survey meters;
    • Improving maintenance through more stringent maintenance contracts;
    • Working with EDS manufacturers to improve machine design;
    • Providing annual radiation safety awareness training for all TSOs; and
    • Using Safety Action Teams, Collateral Duty Safety Officers (CDSOs), and Employee Councils to improve health and safety communications between employees and management.
  • Consistent with the recommendations of NIOSH, each piece of TSA equipment that uses ionizing radiation undergoes an initial radiation survey upon installation and an annual radiation survey to ensure it stays in top working condition. In addition, radiation surveys are performed after maintenance on components that affect radiation safety and at the request of employees. This provides a continuous level of safety.
  • Over the past two years, Health Physicists from the U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional) performed radiation surveys and inspections of 437 (carry-on luggage and checked baggage systems) at 34 airports during screening operations while items were entering and exiting systems with the leaded curtains constantly in motion. The Health Physicists also observed system operation and safe work practices. Over the past year, more than 1,100 TSOs at six airports have participated in a mandatory personal radiation dosimetry study. The results of both the dosimetry study and surveys to date reveal that TSA systems are in compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s standard for cabinet x-ray systems emission limits.

This is a lot of information to read through, but after reading, I’m sure you’ll find that TSA is doing its part to ensure the safety of its employees and the traveling public.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would love to see the study that validated that the radiation from these machines actually goes through the body, rather than concentrates on the skin.

Also, no one ever claimed that one dose of radiation today will give you cancer tomorrow. It's incremental, and happens over many years.

So, unless your studies were 20+ years in length, can you really say with certainty that the machines are safe? We won't know until it's too late. And by then, I have a feeling health care costs will have gone up already, and now we'll have higher cancer rates too!

Submitted by Anonymous on

1) Why aren't the machines marked with radioactive materials signage?
2) Why don't the TSOs wear radiation badges?
3) Is an inspection every 12 months sufficient for machines that will process 1000s of people a day?
4) There have been no studies of the effect of this type of radiation on mass numbers of people, especially children. Isn't TSA conducting a vast experiment here?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So why don't your TSA screeners wear radiation dosimeter badges or lead vests like other that work around x-ray equipment?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why aren't your employees allowed to wear dosimeters? I'll choose being groped over being given cancer, I suppose, but only under duress.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yet the backscatter technology is basically a huge experiment that is being conducted on the traveling public. Radiation concentrated in the skin? How many additional cases of melanoma are we going to have 10 years from now? Ask the residents of Bikini Atoll about that...oh wait, they're all dead from radiation poisoning or displaced because the island is still uninhabitable. And yet we are supposed to trust you?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA is turning a public safety issue into a public health issue.

There was never an issue with baggage x-ray equipment and there is no comparison between that particular application and human imaging using Compton-effect backscatter x-ray machines. The TSA is still vague on this even in the face of overwhelming information available on exposure and potential adverse health effects. Just because the equipment emissions fall within the government-created "specifications" doesn't make it safe for passengers or workers. Ship the machines back to the manufacturers and get the taxpayer's money back.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What about the connection between Michael Chertoff and the company that makes these scanners? That's too much of a conflict of interest to ignore. It taints anything else the TSA says about the scanners.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My wife works for TSA and I'm very concerned about radiation. Her mother died of Breast Cancer and she is more likely to get it then other women. I read what you wrote her but I would feel better if she wore some kind of radiation badge that indicated how much radiation she was exposed to.

She has too much to worry about on her job. She doesn't need to worry about radiation.

Submitted by Park Silkenson on

Blogger Bob, will you please explain why TSA employees are prevented from wearing radiation badges? And if your answer is that they are not prevented from wearing them, then please explain why TSA employees are not required to wear them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This still doesn't address our concerns regarding radiation safety of the backscatter x ray machines. There is conflicting scientific literature out there that indicates any amount of ionizing radiation is not good especially if it is only absorbed to the skin versus through the whole body by x-ray. I don't think enough studies by independent organizations have been done. I will not submit to these machines and will opt out evertime!

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA, are we your guinea pigs? I don't think so, you underestimated the American people!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Is it true employees who try to wear radiation badges are disciplined and/or fired?

How are these machines calibrated and maintained? Who fixes them when something goes wrong?

The TSA had explosive sniffing machines once before but scrapped them because they were too expensive to maintain. Lighters were banned then unbanned after the TSA found out they were too expensive to dispose of properly.

Was this NIOSH report posted for TSA workers to see?

Where did you pull the quotes in the first block from? There is no link.

Submitted by Greebo on

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the comprehensive update.

The only thing that worries me here is this

"The regular preventive maintenance checks, including radiation safety surveys, are performed at least once every 12 months; after any maintenance that affects the radiation shielding, shutter mechanism, or x-ray production components; after any incident that may have damaged the system; after a system is moved or at the request of any employee. "

This means it's possible for a machine to be in operation for 12 months with no safety check, other than the dosimeters situated around it? If there is a fault with the machine that causes it to increase it's output then that won't be caught until the doismeters show it up.

I would have expected daily checks on these machines...?

Also, can you provide any links to studies showing that ionising radiation on the surface of the skin is safe?

cheers,

G.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Safe" is a relative term. The fact is that low levels of radiation on a very large population will lead to disease in a number of persons over time. Even though the number of persons is low percentage-wise, it still exists, and is much, much larger than the number of terrorists caught with these machines.

Submitted by Anonymous on
After deciding to use new technology that has proven to be safe

Meeting standards does not prove something is safe. See cigarettes.

The regular preventive maintenance checks, including radiation safety surveys, are performed at least once every 12 months;

Then the TSA should have no problem releasing these reports.
So why are they refusing to do so.

could it be because:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an investigation back in 2003 and 2004 exposing several X-ray machines that were in violation of federal radiation standards.
Submitted by Anonymous on
When investigators with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's workplace safety team visited a dozen airports in 2003 and 2004, what they found was disturbing - at least to federal airport workers.
Advertisement

Although most radiation levels around baggage X-ray machines were low, six of 281 machines used to screen checked luggage violated federal radiation standards, some emitting two or three times the allowed limit, the CDC found.

Perhaps most troubling, the CDC had found what the Transportation Security Administration hadn't noticed. The TSA and its contractors had failed to identify the machines that were emitting excessive radiation -

http://www.9news.com/news/health/article.aspx?storyid=168434&catid=180
Submitted by Anonymous on

"The regular preventive maintenance checks, including radiation safety surveys, are performed at least once every 12 months; '

------------------------------------

Not according to the CDC report.

Once again the TSA looses credibility with this blog post by not directly addressing this report.

The public just can't count on this blog for facts.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob says "So, I’d like to use this post to address those questions with facts provided by TSA’s director of occupational safety, health and environment, Jill Segraves..."

Talk about the Fox guarding the hen-house.Plenty of non TSA medical sources out there saying the opposite.These machines are a health hazard and any TSO reading this better be getting danger money to stand next to em all day.Hope you guys have solid health plans...your gonna need em.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nice attempt to distract from the real concern about backscatter x-ray being used on *people* by focusing on the safety standards for well-established baggage x-ray technology.

Why didn't you have your Health Physicists evaluate the backscatter x-ray?

Why did TSA insist on choosing backscatter for most checkpoints over the much much safer millimeter wave?

Why do you refuse to let your screeners wear dosimeters when on duty? Do you also prohibit passengers from wearing dosimeters through the backscatter or in the checkpoint vicinity?

Are the backscatter machines in compliance with state laws on devices that emit radiation? Are the TSO's operating the backscatter certified as x-ray technicians?

Can you cite a single independent study that says that shooting x-rays at innocent passengers is 100% safe? Can you cite a single practicing board-certified physician who says that the risks of subjecting thousands of passengers to backscatter x-ray are justified based on the infinitesimally small risk of terrorist attack?

Submitted by MarkVII on

And what has the TSA done to make amends to the passenger?

If I bring a prohibited item to the checkpoint, the fines start at $300 and work their way up from there, plus possibility of arrest.

If I "interfere with the screening process", $300 and up. "Interfere" covers a lot of ground -- that's can be one of those "we don't like the way he combs his hair" situations.

If I make "non physical contact" with a screener, $300 and up again. (How do you make "non physical contact" anyway? Use the Force?)

If I get asked "do you want to fly today", and I answer "not any more", the fine is $10,000 (or is it $11,000?) for not completing screening.

OTOH, on the occasions where the TSA looks into even blatant screener abuse, the passenger might get an apology. The public gets the standard bromides about retraining, never mind "you can't fix stupid." (Thank you Ron While.) I doubt you can fix power tripping jerk, either.

If the TSA were subject to the same financial sanctions as a passenger, they might take matters a bit more seriously.

Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

I find it something close to ironic that the TSA is more concerned about the airplane in general than the passengers inside of said airplanes.

We have to go through the scanners, enhanced pat-downs, metal detectors and magnetometers to make sure we don't so something to the *airplane*.

At the same time, we are getting dosed with radiation from equipment that is inspected only once yearly and inspected by a company that has a vested interest in placing the machines. I think the cliche is something about a fox and a hen-house.

I'm not a genius, I'm not even really that smart, but it seems like a simple lead-lined (lead paint?) wall on either side of the scanners would be a huge step up in controlling 'stray' radiation from the machine blasting bystanders including the TSO's.

Submitted by Curious In Kans... on

In late November, USA TODAY requested current inspection reports for the 4,080 X-ray machines used to examine checked and carry-on bags, and for the 221 new full-body X-ray scanners.

The TSA insists that all have passed radiation inspections conducted by contractors but has thus far been unwilling to release the reports.

The TSA's lack of transparency troubles agency workers, according to the union that represents them.
---------
Blogger Bob, why won't the TSA release the inspection reports? This is very troubling to the average person - as "not releasing" equates to "hiding" which can equate to "danger, danger".

As a skin cancer survivor, I refuse to go through the body scanners at my doctor's recommendation. As he said, there has not been long-term studies done on the new scanners to show if they present a danger or not. (I'm a frequent flyer.)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Does the TSA allow pregnant and cancer survivor agents not to work near these machines without loss of job or pay level?

Submitted by Johen on

I note that nowhere in this post is a study of the backscatter machines mentioned, simply a 'did they install it right' survey.

Passengers are not subjected to the luggage or carry-on screening, but they *are* subjected to the backscatter machines, and the only documentation relating to the safety of these machines is so heavily redacted as to become useless.

Until the same kind of testing is applied to the machines that actually scan people that is applied to the machine which scans my luggage, I'm opting for the pat down.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

No, Bob. I read it. Your organization still doesn't care at all about safety. If they did, they'd scrap every BXR and replace it with MMW.

The BXR is simply unsafe. MMW is safer, although we do need long term studies to back up the claim to safety. But the BXR really is truly unsafe.

I'll tell you a story. Many years ago when I was in the military, still in training, we had to do Physical Training three times a week, and that meant running. Air Force Regulations had us not run under certain weather conditions (black flag, red flag, determined by heat and humidity). It was widely known that if it was red flag the Drill Sergeants (or as we called the MTMs) would simply lie and put up a yellow flag, and if it was black flag they wouldn't put up a flag at all.

If questioned about the temperature and humidity before we went running, and there was no flag up, they'd say "I don't see a black flag, do you?"

Now the whole point is that they would get caught with their lies if they put up the wrong flag, so they didn't put up a flag at all and could act as if the flag was whatever color they wanted it to be.

Now why aren't the TSOs wearing dosimeters? Are you simply not putting up the black weather flag and claiming that it must be green weather since the black flag is not up?

Plus, BXR is still unsafe. It simply is, from start to finish.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Trust, but verify.
We have your word that these machines are safe. Your word is not even remotely good enough. Not when X rays are concerned. Malfunctioning software controlled X ray machines have killed people. At a very minimum, the screeners operating these machines should wear dosimeter badges. Your anti-dosimeter policy makes yoru assurances worthless.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You only check these machines once every 12 months? So if something goes wrong, you could be unknowingly giving people deadly amounts of radiation for several months?

Also, based on your mandatory human experimentation radiation trials with your employees, how many years can they work before the radiation levels become deadly? Or is your turnover so high that this will never be an issue?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"When the technology operates as designed..."

And what about when it doesn't? The "member of the general public" gets radiation burns, cancers, an ice cream sandwich, what? What about the employees when the shielding fails or the beam tracks outside of parameters? They get an ice cream sandwich too?

"The regular preventive maintenance checks, including radiation safety surveys, are performed at least once every 12 months..."

On all machines or some machines? As in, are all machines given the surveys or are only a representative sample given the surveys? What's the expected MTBF for these scanners/components and is a yearly check frequent enough?

"mounting dosimeters...on certain equipment..."

Only on certain equipment, not necessarily on all ionizing radiation emitting equipment? Which equipment has the dosimeter, which doesn't and can a "member of the general public" view that meter?

"over the past year...to date reveal that TSA systems are in compliance with safety standards"

So only recently have they been compliant? Or only recently TSA has confirmed they are compliant? This one might seem like I'm just trying to parse words, but the way it's written sounds like your saying you just started checking in the last year, which doesn't imply good things about the TSA's awareness of radiation risk and handling prior to 2010 or that TSA is really ready to begin irradiating the public at this time.

"Increasing the number of service technicians equipped with radiation survey meters..."

But not the employees who are exposed to the machines all day? Really? Just the guy who gets to work on the machine mostly when it's powered off gets a dosimeter, but not the poor schmoe who gets to stand next to it all day? Really? I must be reading this wrong. Please help me understand that you are not saying what I think you're saying.

"undergoes an initial radiation survey upon installation and an annual radiation survey..."

I thought it was at least every year, not just every year. See above. Which is it? Annually or "at least" annually? All machines or some? How frequent is the "regular preventative maintenance" while we're at it? Also yearly?

Seriously guys - if you can't provide actual information, then don't bother providing anything at all. Every press release the TSA does on these things, the more I'm resolved to never get near one.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It seems even Congress is ignored. Is TSA an agency of men, not of law?

Submitted by Anonymous on

If my doctor says I should avoid x-rays, are you saying your x-rays are safe?

Submitted by Simple Science on

Folks, I don't blog for the TSA, but the answers to these questions are obvious:
1) Why aren't the machines marked with radioactive materials signage?
Answer: They don't use radioactive materials. The X-rays are made electrically, like almost all medical, dental, and industrial X-rays.

2) Why don't the TSOs wear radiation badges (or lead suits)?
Answer: Because the levels are below the exposure levels where individual tracking (or protection) is mandated by OSHA.

3) Is an inspection every 12 months sufficient for machines that will process 1000s of people a day?
He clearly said 12 months was the maximum time between tests. They test them after repairs and a bunch of other things.

4) There have been no studies of the effect of this type of radiation on mass numbers of people, especially children. Isn't TSA conducting a vast experiment here?
Answer: FALSE. This kind of radiation is common in nature, particularly in space. In fact, flying in planes exposes passengers to the same part of the energy band by putting you above 35,000 feet of protective air.

The real question is "Is this worth it?" Let's say that 350,000,000 scans per year causes 5 cases of cancer in the subjects. That's not far-fetched, lots of things have a 1:70,000,000 chance of causing cancer. That's a generally acceptable level of radiation exposure risk. Nothing is completely free of cancer risk.

During these 350,000,000 scans, how many terrorists will be caught? Terrorists are a lot less common than air travelers. I'll even grant we might catch one, even though the TSA has not caught a single terrorist at the screening station in 10 years of trying.

Under these conditions, you give 5 people cancer for every terrorist you catch. That might not be an acceptable level of cancer for the American public. Yet not giving those 5 people cancer means not "doing everything we can" to catch that one terrorist.

The TSA is being wrongfully attacked for using "scary radiation". Normally, folks in this situation can fall back on science and proven statistics to defend themselves. The TSA only finds itself in this bizarre Catch-22 because the very statistics that prove that their X-ray and naked scanners are safe also prove that the machines aren't worth it. Bummer.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If the machines are so safe, please tell us why they are not made available to doctors for independent peer review study? Also, please tell us what precautions are in check to ensure that the machines' software or hardware does not "glitch," resulting in radically higher levels of radiation exposure to each passenger.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to see the long term in vivo studies proving the safety of these machines on human skin.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Two comments.

First to be acceptable, the risk from these machines has to be lower than the risk of getting killed by a terrorist. Since that's almost zero, you will have a tough time proving that your machine is safer.

Second, even if the machines are safe, they are sill unacceptable from a personal privacy standpoint.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob -

Why dont you use it ISCON 1000D which uses completely harmless IR, does not see through clothing, and DOES detect liquid explosives?

Or use the MILLIVISION scanner which uses passive waves? Again no radiation, no through clothing, and can detect liquid explosives?

This would also allow the TSA to get rid of the secondary "viewing" rooms. A screener could simply stand next to the machine and view the silhouette. This would save time and money, and more people would use the damn things.

You have the resources to defuse this whole situation yet the TSA keeps going out of its way to defend the purchase of the radiation scanners.

And don't ever use the FDA as proof that something is "safe". Independent scientific study needs to be conducted.

You guys are doing this to yourself.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You check these machines once a year? Once a year? How many people are zapped by electronic strip-searching ionizing radiation in a year? You call this safe?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Seems like it would make more sense to give the money used for these body scanners to the FBI to use for real terrorism combat, like the FBI has already been doing. Maybe if they had more funds for resources they would have followed up better on the Christmas bomber. These scanners wouldn't have caught him anyways, but profiling would have.

Beefing up TSA resources because of these scanners seems like such a waste, especially given the irradiation and strip searching of common Americans (not criminals).

I also read that funding for FBI will decrease because of funds the TSA needs to increase their staffing because of these scanners. Seems like backwards logic!

Submitted by Anonymous on

SOON... YOU WILL REALIZE BY A RUDE AWAKENING WITHIN YOUR RANKS... AND BY THAT POINT. IT WILL BE TO LATE TO TURN AROUND. GOOD LUCK. THE PUBLIC IS VERY AWARE OF THE UNDERHANDED DEALINGS. A CORRUPT GOVERNEMNT ONLY EXISTS IN MOMENTS IN HISTORY AND THOSE MOMENTS ARE SHORT LIVED INCLUDING THOSE WHO SUPPORT IT. AS A LASTING PRESIDENTS WORDS HISTORICALLY PRESIDE "THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO GIVE UP ESSENTIAL LIBERTIES AND FREEDOM FOR TEMPORARY SAFETY DESERVE NEITHER FREEDOM NOR SAFETY". SADLY,... YOUR PERCEPTION IS THAT THAT SPEECH WAS MADE FOR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, BUT NOT TRUELY THE CASE. IT'S YOU (THE GOVERNEMENT PUBLIC SERVANTS) WHO HAVE CHOSEN THAT PATH. AND IT WILL BE YOU ALL WHO DESERVE NEITHER. NOR SAFETY NOR FREEDOM. GOOD LUCK. I FEAR YOU ALL HAVE FALLEN INTO A HOLE TOO DEEP FOR ANYONE TO HELP. AND YOUR ENTIRE ENTITIES WILL SOON FEEL THE WRATH OF AMERICAN DISCONTENT. FOR EVERY ACTION, THERES AND EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION. WORD TO THE WISE- YOU ALL HAVE FORGOTTEN WHO YOU WORK FOR AS RECIPENTS OF A TAX PAYER PAY CHECK- YOU PEASANTS HAVE FORGOTTEN YOU PLACE IN SOCIETY -VET.USMC

Submitted by Anonymous on

Maybe TSA should take all of the machines out of the airports and physically pat down everyone and thouroughly search their belongings. You would not have to worry about radiation or terrorist. You might have to arrive at the airport 4-6 hours early though to wait your turn. There's the solution for all of you bandwagon complaintants. :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob-Because I work around these machines daily, I believe I have a vested interest in how safe the radiation levels REALLY are. If the machines are safe, have been declared safe, and are known to be safe, then why not give TSA employees peace of mind and allow us to wear radiation exposure badges even if only during a test period to show that radiation levels are too low to cause harm to us? Also, the cabinet x-ray systems used in many airports (Rapiscan systems) are old and mostly outdated, plagued with maintnance issues, and so the exposure levels of those machines cannot possibly be known without radiation exposure badges. If TSA is truly concerned about the occupational safety of its employees and the safety of the traveling public at large, then why not provide these badges to show that a study has been conducted to disprove any claims that exposure levels are high and or unsafe? It's just the right thing to do Bob.

Submitted by RB on

So we can trust TSA to write contract specs like they did for the Puffer ETP machines, those machines that TSA could not make work.

Then the post talks mainly about baggage xray systems, and to be truthful I don't care how many TSA employees you guys fry.

Studies from 2006 certainly don't cover Backscatter Human Xray Devices so have no purpose in this discussion.

TSA has posted nothing that demonstrates Backscatter safety. Nothing.

TSA cannot be trusted except to line the pockets of Chertoff by buying deadly Backscatter Human Xray Devices.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why would you publish information about radiation with information supplied by a TSA Director? The TSA does not get it - you have lost your credibility with a large percentage of Americans. Any information supplied by the TSA needs to be verified and supplied by an independent third party, especially when it comes to privacy and health concerns.

Trust and respect have to be earned and cannot be commanded. It seems like people who have spent their careers in the government forget, or never learn, that very important fact.

The negative reactions that many Americans have toward the TSA originate by the interactions that frequent travelers, like myself, observe across the country at TSA checkpoints. Start treating the taxpayers like people who deserve respect - you might be surprised how public perception improves.

Submitted by Jeff on

I've seen conflicting claims of the exact dose of radiation per scan. Could you clear this up for me please?

How many mrems are emitted (or absorbed) during the average scan, or at least what is the target calibration in terms of mrems per scan?

You can say over and over that ionizing radiation is "safe", but with no metric of accumulated radiation, how can that be a valid claim? The fact is that ionizing radiation emits particles that can damage or kill cells, with the potential for mutagenic results. How is that "safe" in high doses?

People can make this decision for themselves if you'd only publish how many mrems of radiation is emitted (or absorbed) per scan. For a reference point, it is said the national average absorption, per person, is 360 mrems.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why aren't your employees allowed to wear dosimeters?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Dental x-ray machines aren't used as frequently as body scanners, and can hardly be used as an adequate comparison. We are talking about hundreds and millions of scans - the TSA's goal.

Plus, body scanners scan your entire person, skin, eyes, breasts, genitals, etc., and a dental x-ray scans your mouth while you wear a lead blanket.

They are hardly comparable.

Submitted by Anonymous on

For those who suggest removing all security, or separate unsecured planes, etc., in response to Americans "complaining" re the new scanners and "enhanced" pat-downs, are really the ones that come across as unreasonable and generally flippant.

Please understand no one is asking for no security, just security that considers privacy, health, and the constitution(!). The American Public at large is not a terrorist group. Yet this is what the TSA believes and this tone trickles down to the TSO's at check-in.

There are cheaper more effective methods, and these scanners don't even detect bombs.. they just show your naked image and anything that might be attached to your body or in your clothes.

So in that case, a general frisk + metal detector makes more sense.

Submitted by Land Of The Sheeple on

Seeing "TSA" and "Facts" in the same sentence is a bit of a laugh!

You just carry on with your kabuki theater boys, nobody is buying it but hey, Chertoff is making a mint.

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