TSA Radiation Exposure

SUBHEAD: TSA field agents have reason to worry about their safety. Not from the public but from radiation exposure. By Alison Young on 6 December 2010 for USA Today - (http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-12-06-tsa-xray-inside_N.htm)
Image above: A rather unhealthy TSA agent stands next to backscatter x-ray machine/ From (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2631515/posts).
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. 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 — a failure that continues to leave TSA workers and some lawmakers uneasy, especially as the agency continues to deploy hundreds of controversial radiation-emitting machines to help screen passengers. Video above: "Please Remove Your Shoes" Movie Trailer, From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTJ9v1s1Oak). Although the CDC report, finished in 2008, concluded that the radiation levels didn't pose a "direct hazard" to TSA workers, it recommended that the TSA take steps to protect against excessive exposures. Health guidelines call for people to limit their exposure to radiation as much as reasonably possible. 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. Members of Congress are now calling on the TSA to release radiation inspection records, and one lawmaker — Rep.Ed Markey, D-Mass. — has asked for an investigation into the effectiveness of the TSA's oversight of its X-ray machines. The TSA's lack of transparency troubles agency workers, according to the union that represents them. "We don't think the agency is sharing enough information," said Milly Rodriguez, occupational health and safety specialist at the American Federation of Government Employees. "Radiation just invokes a lot of fear." Jill Segraves, director of TSA's occupational safety office, said the problems identified by CDC were a result of the agency's rapid creation in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "We didn't even have policies and procedures in place yet," she said, noting TSA's safety office wasn't created until 2003. "Now we have a much better educated workforce. They understand what to look for with these systems," Segraves said. A different contractor now maintains the TSA's airport equipment, she said, and every machine receives a radiation test at least annually, at installation and after maintenance issues. TSA, Army inspect machines Airport X-ray machines are exempt from the state radiation control inspections they would receive if installed at a local courthouse or in a non-federal office building.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't routinely inspect airport X-ray machines either because they are not medical devices, said FDA spokesman Dick Thompson. That leaves the TSA responsible for inspecting its own devices. Since 2008, the TSA has contracted with the U.S. Army Public Health Command to do additional radiation spot checks at 10-12 of the nation's 450 commercial passenger airports each year. The added layer of scrutiny is supposed to act as a backstop to the regular inspections and monitoring done by maintenance contractors. So far the Army radiation inspectors have checked 437 baggage X-ray machines at 34 airports selected by TSA; all had radiation emissions "well below" federal requirements, said Fran Szrom, a health physicist with the Army program. Every year Americans are exposed to about 300 millirem of radiation from naturally occurring sources, from rocks and soil to cosmic rays, according to the Health Physics Society. The amounts of radiation emitted by properly working airport X-ray equipment is small, though some experts disagree how small Federal regulations require X-ray machines that screen bags to emit less than 0.5 millirem an hour. Currently, there are 221 backscatter X-ray machines to screen passengers at 39 airports. According to the TSA, each scan delivers a radiation dose of less than 0.01 millirem. For the new backscatter X-ray full-body scanners, Army inspectors have taken radiation readings in and around 15 of the scanners at three airports: Cincinnati, Boston and Los Angeles. All of them met safety standards and delivered less than 0.005 millirem per screening, Szrom said. Not all of the TSA's new full-body scanners use X-rays to see through passengers' clothing. Of 412 full-body scanners deployed so far, 191 at 30 airports use a different technology called millimeter wave, that uses electromagnetic waves instead of ionizing radiation. Concerns remain Despite assurances, some TSA workers don't trust that the agency has fixed the kinds of maintenance and monitoring issues identified by the CDC, said union official Rodriguez. Because TSA workers at airports in Boston and San Juan were troubled by what they saw as possible cancer clusters among colleagues, the TSA this year requested health hazard evaluations of their work areas to address radiation concerns, CDC records show. The CDC found nothing unusual about the number of cancer cases and determined they were likely unrelated to airport X-ray machines, the reports say. And a TSA employee at an unidentified airport asked CDC in June to examine concerns about radiation exposures from standing near the new full-body X-ray scanners for hours a day. The CDC said it didn't have authority to do a hazard assessment unless three or more current employees at one location made a joint request, according to a September letter from the CDC to the unnamed worker. The CDC provided the letter to USA TODAY. Since April 2009, the Army team also has been studying the radiation doses received by TSA workers at six airports, Philadelphia, Baltimore, West Palm Beach, Memphis, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore. The report is not yet final, but Szrom said all the data shows radiation exposure is low — "well below" limits that would require workers to routinely wear radiation monitoring badges. The backscatter machines have drawn criticism among some scientists and health experts who are concerned about subjecting thousands of travelers to even tiny doses of radiation. Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University, also worries about the possibility of higher doses or even radiation burns if a machine malfunctions and the scanning beam stops on one part of the body. Rez, who has reviewed a patent application for the backscatter system, notes that the scanner has a fail-safe system that is supposed to shut down the X-ray beam if there's a problem. "But we all learned this summer that fail-safe systems do fail," Rez said, referring to the mechanical failures that resulted in the massive Gulf oil spill. Rapiscan Systems, the company that makes the full-body backscatter X-ray scanners used by TSA, did not respond to interview requests. The new full-body scanners have raised more concerns than the baggage X-ray machines, despite TSA and FDA assurances that they're safe. David Brenner, director of Columbia University's center for radiological research, questions whether it's good public policy to give millions of people the backscatter scans — even if the health risk is remote. "The radiation dose is very, very low indeed," Brenner said. "From most individuals' point of view, I don't think one should have much concern about walking through these scanners." But as millions of scans are performed on large populations of people, Brenner said "you can be reasonably convinced a certain number of people will end up with a cancer from the radiation exposure, despite the fact the risk to the individual is very low." Skin cancer, is the primary risk, he said. Brenner said a few people getting cancer might be acceptable in return for air security if there weren't an alternative technology — the millimeter wave machines — that had no known health risk. "Why use a technology where the best estimate is there will be come cancers somewhere down the line?" he asked. TSA spokesman Kimball said the TSA competitively bids for new technology and will deploy those that meet its threat detection and safety standards. Both millimeter wave and backscatter X-rays meet those standards, he said.
Radiation scientists agree TSA naked body scanners could cause breast cancer and sperm mutations.
By Mike Adams on 3 December 2010 for in Natural News - (http://www.naturalnews.com/030607_naked_body_scanners_radiation.html)
Video above: Denver Airport Underwear Interviews WACCTV. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCagUmAS5QE).
The news about the potential health dangers of the TSA's naked body scanners just keeps getting worse. An increasing number of doctors and scientists are going public with their warnings about the health implications of subjecting yourself to naked body scanners. These include Dr Russell Blaylock (see below) as well as several professors from the University of California who are experts in X-ray imaging. At the same time, some internet bloggers are insisting that the TSA's naked body scanners pose no health risks because air travelers are subjected to higher levels of radiation by simply enduring high-altitude flights where cosmic radiation isn't filtered out by the full thickness of the Earth's atmosphere. This comparison, however, is inaccurate: The TSA's body scannersfocus radiation on the skin and organs near the skin whereas cosmic radiation during high-altitude flights is distributed across the entire mass of your body. Comparing the total radiation exposure across your entire body to machine-emitted radiation exposure that focuses its ionizing radiation primarily on your skin is like comparing apples and oranges. You'll see this explained further, below, in the words of these scientists. As Dr Russell Blaylock (www.BlaylockReport.com) recently reported: The growing outrage over the Transportation Security Administration's new policy of backscatter scanning of airline passengers and enhanced pat-downs brings to mind these wise words from President Ronald Reagan: The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. So, what is all the concern really about - will these radiation scanners increase your risk of cancer or other diseases? A group of scientists and professors from the University of California at San Francisco voiced their concern to Obama's science and technology adviser John Holdren in a well-stated letter back in April. The letter Dr Blaylock is referring to is from the Faculty of the University of California, San Francisco and is signed by Doctors John Sedat Ph.D., David Agard, Ph.D., Marc Shuman, M.D., Robert Stroud, Ph.D. You can download or view the full letter from NaturalNews here (PDF): http://www.NaturalNews.com/files/TS... Even though it was written in April of this year, this letter has received increased publicity lately due to the TSA's sudden expansion of naked body scanners in airports as well as the agency's arrogant insistence that such machines will soon be used at bus stations, railway stations and other entrance points for mass transportation. In this NaturalNews article, I highlight the most important warnings from this letter and explain, in plain language, what these scientists are trying to say.
The letter that the TSA doesn't want you to read - Once again, this letter was written by Drs John Sedat Ph.D., David Agard, Ph.D., Marc Shuman, M.D., Robert Stroud, Ph.D., all from the University of California. Here is their background as described in the letter: Dr. Sedat is a Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, with expertise in imaging. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The other cosigners include Dr Marc Shuman, and internationally well known and respected cancer expert and UCSF professor, as well as Drs David Agard and Robert Stroud, who are UCSF Professors, X-ray crystallographers, imaging experts and NAS members. Here are the highlights of the letter along with my comments and explanations: "We are writing to call your attention to serious concerns about the potential health risks of the recently adopted whole body backscatter X-ray airport security scanners. This is an urgent situation as these X-ray scanners are rapidly being implemented as a primary screening step for all air travel passengers." Translation: The naked body scanners may be dangerous to your health. "Our overriding concern is the extent to which the safety of this scanning device has been adequately demonstrated. This can only be determined by a meeting of an impartial panel of experts that would include medical physicists and radiation biologists at which all of the available relevant data is reviewed." Translation: The safety of these naked body scanners has never been demonstrated, and especially not by an independent panel of qualified scientists.
"The physics of these X-rays is very telling: the X-rays are Compton-Scattering off outer molecule bonding electrons and thus inelastic (likely breaking bonds)."
Translation: The ionizing radiation emitted by these devices can alter your DNA.
"Unlike other scanners, these new devices operate at relatively low beam energies (28keV). The majority of their energy is delivered to the skin and the underlying tissue. Thus, while the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high."
Translation: The danger of these devices is significantly higher than what might be assumed from the TOTAL radiation emissions. This is why those who claim "you get more radiation just from flying" are flat-out wrong in their conclusions.
"This comparison is very misleading: both the air travel cosmic ray exposure and chest X-rays have much higher X-ray energies and the health consequences are appropriately understood in terms of the whole body volume dose. In contrast, these new airport scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight / volume, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high."
Translation: This is a further explanation of why the ionizing radiation from the naked body scanners may pose a much higher risk of cancer (two orders of magnitude higher!) than what might be assumed from the total radiation emissions.
"In addition, it appears that real independent safety data do not exist. A search, ultimately finding top FDA radiation physics staff, suggests that the relevant radiation quantity, the Flux [photons per unit area and time (because this is a scanning device)] has not been characterized. Instead an indirect test (Air Kerma) was made that emphasized the whole body exposure value, and thus it appears that the danger is low when compared to cosmic rays during airplane travel and a chest X-ray dose. In summary, if the key data (flux-integrated photons per unit values) were available, it would be straightforward to accurately model the dose being deposited in the skin and adjacent tissues using available computer codes, which would resolve the potential concerns over radiation damage."
Translation: The FDA screwed up the safety testing (gee, really?) by assuming the emitted radiation was distributed across the entire body rather than focused on the skin. It brings up the question: When and how were these devices ever approved by the FDAanyway? Naked body scanners are clearly "medical devices" as they emit X-rays that penetrate body tissue. Did the FDA ever conduct long-term clinical trials demonstrating the safety of these devices? (Of course not.) Did they ever test the safety of naked body scanners on pregnant women? What about senior citizens? How about people who have already undergone radiation treatments for conditions like thyroid cancer? Ten big concerns voiced by the scientists Here are ten additional concerns raised by these scientists in their letter: (the bolded titles are my subheads, the subsequent explanation test is quoted straight out the scientists' letter)
#1) Cancer in senior citizens - The large population of older travelers, greater than 65 years of age, is particularly at risk from the mutagenic effects of the X-rays based on the known biology of melanocyte aging. #2) Breast cancer - A fraction of the female population is especially sensitive to mutagenesis-provoking radiation leading to breast cancer. Notably, because these women, who have defects in DNA repair mechanisms, are particularly prone to cancer, X-ray mammograms are not performed on them. The dose to breast tissue beneath the skin represents a similar risk. #3) White blood cells being irradiated - Blood (white blood cells) perfusing the skin is also at risk. #4) HIV and cancer patients - The population of immunocompromised individuals -- HIV and cancer patients (see above) is likely to be at risk for cancer induction by the high skin dose. #5) Radiation risk to children - The risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appear to have been fully evaluated. #6) Pregnant women - The policy towards pregnant women needs to be defined once the theoretical risks to the fetus are determined. #7 Sperm mutations - Because of the proximity of the testicles to skin, this tissue is at risk forsperm mutagenesis. #8 Radiation effects on cornea and thymus - Have the effects of the radiation on the cornea and thymus been determined? #9 Problems with the machine - There are a number of 'red flags' related to the hardware itself. Because this device can scan a human in a few seconds, the X-ray beam is very intense. Any glitch in power at any point in the hardware (or more importantly in software) that stops the device could cause an intense radiation dose to a single spot on the skin. Translation: This machine does not emit a "flood light" of radiation like you might get from a dental X-ray machine. Rather, this machine emits a thin, narrow beam of radiation that is quickly "scanned" across your body, back and forth, in much the same way that an inkjet printer prints a page (but a lot faster). Because the angle of the X-ray beam is controlled by the scanner software, a glitch in the software could turn the naked body scanner into a high-energy weapon if the beam gets "stuck" in one location for more than a fraction of a second. #10 Higher radiation for the groin? - Given the recent incident (on December 25th, 2009), how do we know whether the manufacturer or TSA, seeking higher resolution, will scan the groin area more slowly leading to a much higher total dose?
None of these ten concerns are being answered by the TSA and its head John Pistole. The attitude from the TSA on these scanners, in fact, is downright belligerent, treating Americans as terrorists and threatening to arrest and detain individuals who refuse to be scanned and groped. The TSA, it seems, believes it can do no wrong. Such is the inevitable outcome of granting too much power to any government department, as it will always seek to expand its power to the point of tyranny over the People. Dangerous errors are possible In this letter, these scientists go on to explain why they continue to hold such concerns: (my emphasis added) We would like to put our current concerns into perspective. As longstanding UCSF scientists and physicians, we have witnessed critical errors in decisions that have seriously affected the health of thousands of people in the United States. These unfortunate errors were made because of the failure to recognize potential adverse outcomes of decisions made at the federal level. Crises create a sense of urgency that frequently leads to hasty decisions where unintended consequences are not recognized. Examples include the failure of the CDC to recognize the risk of blood transfusions in the early stages of the AIDS epidemic, approval of drugs and devices by the FDA without sufficient review, and improper standards set by the EPA, to name a few. Similarly, there has not been sufficient review of the intermediate and long-term effects of radiation exposure associated with airport scanners. There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations. We are unanimous in believing that the potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted. Modifications that reduce radiation exposure need to be explored as soon as possible. In summary we urge you to empower an impartial panel of experts to reevaluate the potential health issues we have raised before there are irrevocable long-term consequences to the health of our country. These negative effects may on balance far outweigh the potential benefit of increased detection of terrorists. Translation: These scientists believe that the TSA's naked body scanners pose a risk of promoting cancer across the population and that a real, scientific evaluation by trained, independent scientists must be conducted before these scanners are put to further use. Again, you can read this letter for yourself here: http://www.NaturalNews.com/files/TS... Big Government says: What cancer? The TSA, of course, refuses to hold any serious discussion about the science behind its use of naked body scanners... primarily because there is no legitimate science backing the use of its naked body scanners. This whole scam was orchestrated by Chertoff and his Washington buddies to scare the population into accepting X-ray scans at airports so that a few rich white guys could cash in on the sale of these machines to the federal government. The whole thing is a massive con job that, as usual, benefits the bank accounts of a few well-connected power pushers while compromising both the freedoms and the health of the American people. No legitimate safety testing has ever been conducted on these naked body scanners, and yet the FDA and TSA just allow them to be rolled out on the ASSUMPTION that they must somehow be perfectly safe. (The same is true with seasonal flu vaccines, by the way, which are never tested in randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.) Isn't this how aspartame got legalized, come to think of it? Except in that case it was Rumsfeld, not Chertoff, calling the shots. You can't have nutrition, but we'll feed you X-rays! Think about what's happening here for a minute: The FDA is an agency that has gone out and threatened, raided and persecuted manufacturers of walnuts, cherries and green tea products who made scientifically validated health claims about the benefits of those products. And yet, when it comes to rolling out naked body scanners that pose a cancer risk to the population, the FDA requires no legitimate scientific testing whatsoever and simply rubber stamps the whole project, thereby subjecting virtually the entire population to radiation-emitting devices with an unknown level of health risk. But then again, what do they care if a few thousand people get cancer anyway? More cancer just means more profits for the cancer industry which, not coincidentally, just happens to treat its patients with yet more radiation as some sort of "therapy" for cancer. (I know, this just gets more bizarre the further you go). Big Pharma must love the fact that millions of Americans are now being subjected to yet another form of ionizing radiation, as that means more cancer patients to buy chemotherapy in the years ahead, too. Pile 'em in, Chief! We've got more cattle to brand! The craziest part of all But the really crazy part about this whole story is not that the scientists are concerned about the health risks of these naked body scanners. It's not that the TSA is, itself, a terrorist organization now generating more fear and terror than the international terrorists could ever hope to accomplish. It's not even the fact that the FDA allows these radiation machines to be widely used across the country despite the fact that they've never been honestly and scientifically tested for use on humans. No, the real shocker in all this is the startling fact that people are lining up like cattle to go along with this. Your average American citizen, it seems, just can't wait to bow down to authority and subject their private body parts to a federal search in complete violation of their Constitutional rights. In fact, come to think of it, Judge Napolitano recently appeared on the Alex Jones Show to talk about the freedom issues with the naked body scanners and obscene gropes. You can watch those videos at: http://www.prisonplanet.com/the-ale... It's a very educational interview. Naked body scanners pose a cancer risk But getting back to the health issue in particular, it is clear to anyone who understands the laws of physics that the TSA's naked body scanners create an increased risk of cancer to the population. That's why I had the sense to refuse to go through one of these when directed to do so at a California airport. I opted out and went through the "easy" pat down (the easy version, before they upgraded to their "enhanced" pat downs). () As of right now, I refuse to fly until the TSA backs off its naked body scanner madness. Not only do I refuse to subject my biology to ionizing radiation that carries an unknown cancer risk, but I also strongly object to the U.S. government violating my Constitutional rights by viewing the shape of my naked body on their electronic viewing screens. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson. And Winston Churchill famously said:
"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

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