Agency says reports this week “missed the mark”
by Steve Watson
Despite numerous reports this week suggesting that the TSA is to buy equipment to test employees for radiation exposure, the agency itself says it has no intention of doing so.
The LA Times reported that the agency was planning to equip its security officers with individual radiation dosimeters, to test the levels of radiation they were being exposed to from backscatter x-ray body scanners.
“After years of rebuffing health concerns over airport scanners, the Transportation Security Administration plans to conduct new tests on the potential radiation exposure from the machines at more than 100 airports nationwide,” the report read.
Details of the tests were reportedly leaked via a request sent to government vendors to provide wearable dosimeters.
However, a post from the TSA’s official blog says that the Times report “missed the mark”
“Why the confusion you might ask? TSA routinely puts out Requests for Information (RFI) that are basically market research, asking industry to tell us what else is out there.” the blog post noted.
“In this case, TSA put out an RFI to gather information on available tools to continue to monitor our technologies. This is simply designed to ask industry what new technology might be available.”
The blog then repeated the claim that the body scanning machines have been tested and approved.
“Truth is, we continuously test all of the technology we use and post the results to our website for all to see,” said a Jan. 17 post by Blogger Bob Burns on the agency’s web site.
“Based on all of our previous testing, as well as monitoring from independent sources, we’re confident that all of our equipment meets national safety standards, and is safe for all passengers and our workforce,” said Burns.
Despite these claims, documents obtained by The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) show how the TSA “publicly mischaracterized” the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in stating that NIST had positively confirmed the safety of full body scanners in tests.
Numerous other studies conducted by prestigious universities and health authorities, including Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, the University of California, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, have warned that the devices will lead to an increase in cancers.
Despite the fact that almost every independent study has concluded that the machines will cause cancer cases to increase, the TSA routinely denies the threat, and even claimed that the Johns Hopkins study validated the safety of the scanners, when in fact it said the opposite.
Johns Hopkins’ biophysics expert Dr Michael Love warned that, “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” after conducting a study of the naked body scanners.
Scrutiny over radiation exposure was heightened recently following apparent efforts by the TSA to cover-up a “cluster” of cancer cases amongst scanner operators at Boston-Logan airport. According to FOIA documents obtained by the EPIC, when Union representatives in Boston discovered a “cancer cluster” amongst TSA workers linked with radiation from the body scanners, the TSA sought to downplay the matter and refused to issue employees with dosimeters to measure levels of exposure.
The documents indicated how, “A large number of workers have been falling victim to cancer, strokes and heart disease.”
Back In November, TSA head John Pistole reneged on a promise to the Senate to instigate further studies into the safety of radiation firing body scanners. Pistole had promised to commission further independent research into the safety risks associated with full body scanners, following a Europe wide ban on the machines. However, within two weeks the TSA head had backtracked, saying further study was unnecessary at this time.
As we reported last week, the Department of Homeland Security is also set to expand the use of X-ray scanning machines at US border crossings, despite the availability of millimeter-wave machines that do the same job without emitting harmful radiation.
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- Radiation Doctor Admits TSA Naked Body Scanners Can Cause Cancer
- TSA To Test Body Scanner Operators For Radiation Exposure
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- Poll Shows Most Travelers Will Forgo Flying to Avoid Scanner Radiation
- “Less Invasive” TSA Body Scanners Do Nothing To Address Radiation Risk
- TSA Records: Some Scanners Emit Ten Times Expected Radiation
- Radiation Safety Group Says Naked Body Scanners Increase Risk Of Cancer
- Why is U.S. Using X-Ray Security Scanners Europe Rejects as Unsafe?
- TSA Scanner Radiation ’10X Higher than Expected’
- Really? TSA Says It Will Study Body Scanner Radiation Risks?