I Feel Safer Already

EPIC has discovered through FOIA requests:

On June 24, 2011, EPIC released documents obtained from DHS as a result of EPIC’s lawsuit.

The disclosed documents include agency emails, radiation studies, memoranda of agreement concerning radiation testing programs, and results of some radiation tests.

The documents raise new questions concerning the radiation risks posed by the TSA full body scanner program. The records demonstrate:

  • TSA employees have identified cancer clusters allegedly linked to radiation exposure while operating body scanners and other screening technology. However, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters – safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure.
  • The DHS has publicly mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST “affirmed the safety” of full body scanners. NIST stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test full body scanners for safety, and that the Institute does not do product testing.
  • A Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit.”
  • A NIST study warns airport screeners to avoid standing next to full body scanners.

I’m usually rather skeptical of public health fear mongering, but this is a case where no one asked people whether they wanted to take screening this far. TSA just did it, and screw you if you don’t agree. Now we know there’s really been no testing on back scatter devices, and that NIST warned workers no to stand next to them.

Now granted, they would be getting some dose throughout the day, whereas you’ll just get it once, but how much leaks? And what’s the dose for the person in it? How do we know the dose being delivered is within specifications?

I don’t think we do. I don’t think TSA does.

13 Responses to “I Feel Safer Already”

  1. Stew says:

    Maybe this is part of a scheme to make the TSA so reviled they are disbanded?

    I can dream, right?

  2. Andy says:

    So TSA employees may get cancer from their tasks of taking the dignity of the flying public. I think there’s a word for that.

  3. Stew says:

    This video should explain just how you feel:

  4. David says:

    I’ll go through one when big sis, Janet, goes though one everyday before entering her office. Better yet. Lets have all of Congress have to go though one everyday to get into the capitol complex. They’re safe, right….

  5. Chas says:

    Does everything Congress touches turn to shit?

  6. Sebastian says:

    Yes… it’s the Midas touch, only in reverse.

  7. Spade says:

    “However, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters – safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure.”

    Wait, what?

    I worked with an airport style X-ray scanner a few times (for another government group, NOT TSA) and we were issued dosimeters on day one and were told that bad things would happen to us if we crossed a certain yellow line without one. We were also legally required to take a radiation safety class once a year. I was told this was all for legal and OSHA reasons.

  8. Freiheit says:

    “So TSA employees may get cancer from their tasks of taking the dignity of the flying public. I think there’s a word for that.”

    Screwing the taxpayer is three words. No only are we paying for the TSA to strip us of our own liberties, but we’re also going to get to pay for the lawsuits and healthcare for cancer patients.

    I’m willing to help those in need, but I’m infuriated when I have to help them with something that was entirely preventable.

  9. Honestly, this smells really fishy to me. Among other things, full body scanners use microwave band radar and clinical trials have shown this to have little to no effect on cancer.

  10. Stew says:

    Jeff, there are two types of scanners: Millimeter wave radar, and X-ray backscatter. I believe the X-ray backscatter is causing the “trouble,” and I’m going to sleep better knowing that the short bus Stasi are getting cancer from their machinery.

  11. Not much to add, other than to note that I think “Short bus Stasi” is my new favorite phrase. Perhaps we could all start using it to refer to the TSA?

  12. Stew says:

    It is my pleasure to share the term “short bus Stasi” with the good folks here. Use it in good health.

  13. chris says:

    Those machines are going nowhere as long as as congress critters have a vested interest in there manufacture!


  1. Just when you thought the TSA couldn’t get any more despicable… | Pithy Title Goes Here - [...] It turns out that the backscatter scanning machines have been linked to cancer clusters in TSA workers (H/T Sebastian). [...]