Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Radiation Retest Results are In: Scanners Operating Safely

Remember how we told you in this post that there had been some errors in our reports and we were going to retest all of our AIT units to ensure they were screening at safe levels? Well, we’re done, and everything came back just fine. You can see all the reports here just as we promised. You can read a recent Reuters article on the subject and while you’re reading up on the subject, be sure to take a look at an article from the Archives of Internal Medicine, co-authored by a UCSF scientist concluding that there is no significant threat of radiation from the scans.

To put things in perspective, here are some sources of radiation you may not have been aware of: 

  • One year of naturally occurring background radiation: 300 millirem 
  • Annual recommended limit to the public of radiation from man-made sources: 100 millirem
  • Chest X-ray: 10 millirem 
  • Flight from New York to Los Angeles: 4 millirem 
  • One day of natural background: approximately 1 millirem (corrected 3/16/11 20:56)
  • Drinking three glasses of water a day for a year: 0.045 millirem
  • One backscatter X-ray scan: Approximately 0.005 millirem 
    Blogger Bob
    TSA Blog Team

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    41 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    Why are some machines emitting 4x more radiation than others?

    Source: http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/foia/survey_tests/7001502-SEA-08052009.pdf

    http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/foia/survey_tests/7001504-SEA-10132010.pdf

    Anonymous said...

    That's like the students grading their own tests. If the TSA submits the scanners to independent and verified labs then there may be a real result. Until then, it's just more propaganda. A dozen scientists came out last week citing studies against the scanners. You guys just picked the lab that will get you the results you want.

    This is about as safe as the FDA fast tracking a new drug only to recall it after enough people die from it.

    RB said...

    Which outside of TSA parties have independently tested an operational TSA WBI Cancer Machine?

    RB said...

    http://m.cnbc.com/us_news/43159451


    New tests of full-body scanners deployed at airports found that the radiation they emit was within acceptable levels, the Transportation Security Administration said on Tuesday after previous checks found some anomalies in results.

    ..............
    Anyone see the problem here?

    RB said...

    Bob, this link you provided requires a subscription.
    ....................
    "be sure to take a look at an article from the Archives of Internal Medicine,"

    John O'Meara said...

    WIth the exception of the chest x-ray, none of the exposures you list there are *focused* radiation, and so using them is worthless for comparison purposes. The suns rays falling on 5 square inches of your arm is also harmless until you put a lens in the path. Then that same 5 square inches can burn.

    Moreover, until you have tests of units *in the field* by someone *other* than the manufacturer, their subcontractors, etc (i.e. an impartial test), I'm still opting out. Period.

    Anonymous said...

    Get your nude body scanners and invasive patdowns without just cause OUT OF OUR AIRPORTS.

    Anonymous said...

    I'll believe these strip-search scanners are safe when you require your own employees to wear radiation meters around them.

    Rebecca said...

    If you are going to link an article, make sure the link actually works. Your link sends your readers to a log-in screen and it seems like your claim merits a look at the article without having to sign up, pay or the like.

    Anonymous said...

    You claim that x-ray bckscatter is safe - others disagree, notably the European Parliament.
    On tuesday 24/05/11 the European Transport and Tourism Committee voted 37 to 2 to ban x-ray body-scanners in all European airports on HEALTH grounds.A final vote will be taken in late June.
    I know who I would trust and believe on this matter.

    TSORon said...

    Unfortunately Bob few who post here are going to believe the evidence. They never have before, so there is no reason to suspect they will this time.

    But I did want to say thanks for posting the evidence again. It’s always nice to have the facts when facing ignorance, it makes it easier to make a fool expose themselves publicly.

    Anonymous said...

    Janet Napolitano declined to go through the machine. I figure she has the inside information. If she has reservations, then I do.

    Anonymous said...

    Given that the TSA has lied about scanner testing so many times to date, why should we believe you now?

    Anonymous said...

    So where's the report from JHU from their testing on an actual backscatter unit instead of the cobbled-together "test unit" they reported getting stuck with last time?

    Or were they not asked to retest after the stropping they gave the TSA in the media for claiming that they'd somehow "approved" the devices after never being allowed to actually test one?

    Anonymous said...

    BB, do you realize that despite your agency's claims to the contrary, some of the backscatter machines ARE leaking radiation? The data are right in the reports you linked. See: original reports for BOS S51006004 and BOS S51006005, for starters.

    Anonymous said...

    Were these tests performed on a machine used in the field?

    Are the operators certified radiologists?

    Paulotoo said...

    So, if Janet Napolitano's beloved whole body x-ray machines are perfectly safe for the rest of us then why doesn't she set an example and be scanned each and every time she flies?

    Anonymous said...

    Viva La Texas! No more gropes and no more scanners! Shut up with your lies Bob! All America knows you are a propaganda writer on the Federal Governments pay roll !

    Bob [not the blogger] said...

    What possible, legitimate, sensible reason could TSA possibly have to expose passengers and others entering the secure area to unsafe radiation?

    Where is the sense in saying that TSA ignores the unsafe condition just so it can make trouble for people and its agents?

    Of course, conspiracy theories abound. In this case, NONE of them make ANY sense.

    Anonymous said...

    "any future discussion on common European standards for airport security should be limited to technologies that neither produce images nor emit radiation."

    Martin Scheinin, Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute

    Concerned Observer said...

    As someone currently being educated in science and doing labs, this report is disappointing.

    Only when machines that have actually been used at the airports are tested by an independent third party (or multiple, if you'd like to choose one and let someone against them choose one) will a large enough portion of the scientific community accept the TSA's assessment of its own machines.

    Where is the experiment published in a scientific journal demonstrating that Backscatter x-rays focused on the skin are safe?

    Anonymous said...

    One year of naturally occurring background radiation: 300 millirem
    One day of natural background: approximately 1 millirem (corrected 3/16/11 20:56)


    Still got it WRONG, Bob. 1 millirem x 365 days in a year =/= 300 millirem.

    Anonymous said...

    TSORon said...
    I did want to say thanks for posting the evidence again.

    WHAT evidence? A report by the fox saying the henhouse is well guarded? A link to a pay article? Puhleeze.

    Anonymous said...

    First, we want INDEPENDENT tests, not tests by the company that manufactures the machines.

    Second, even if the levels of ionizing radiation are correct, and even if you don't consider the specific body areas where they concentrate, they will still cause cancer on a small number of people (because the number scanned is very high), many more than the number of terrorists caught.

    Anonymous said...

    The PDF reports seem to be from Rapidscan. You got the company who MADE the machines to test them to see if they were safe? And they found them safe? Wow, now there is a surprise. Lots of conflict of interest there. You really don't like 3rd party objective observation of your follies and waste.

    SSSS for some reason said...

    Yes, thank you to Blogger Bob for sharing the updated information. And thank you for being the 'face' of the TSA in the Blog-o-Sphere. I know it has to be hard to stand up and keep the smile on in the face of such opposition.

    And then to TSORon....

    "TSORon said...
    Unfortunately Bob few who post here are going to believe the evidence. They never have before, so there is no reason to suspect they will this time"

    No. It is not a question of not believing you simply for the sake of being difficult. I don't believe the results of your testing because you are not following basic scientific testing principals. You are cherry-picking the results that support your view point and disregarding, or dismissing, any contrary evidence or viewpoint.

    That is just bad science.

    My local airport has a couple of these machines. My local airport 'closes' at about 1 a.m. Why can't some independent scientists schedule some time between 2 and 6 a.m. to field test a 'live' machine? I know that is a strange time of night to be doing this kind of work, but there would be little to no impact to travelers since there are no travelers in the airport that time of night.

    And this becomes one of those Win-Win situations.... We, the public, get the Independent and un-biased Scientific Studies on 'Live' Machines. You get to say "Told Ya So" if the results support your side of the debate.

    Anonymous said...

    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    - Ben Franklin

    Anonymous said...

    Your repeated junvenile attempts to allay fears of law-abiding taxpaying Americans by supplying partial truths is patronizing at best. The incomptence of your organization is what instigated a need for a re-test of the AIT machines in the first place. Why should we believe you now?

    Until the TSA finds a secure, dignified, and safe way to screen taxpaying Americans, you should remove any emblems of this great country from your TSA uniforms. The TSA dishonors our great country by using tawdry and inappropriate practices which were confirmed once again this week in Texas.

    Anon_1984 said...

    "TSORon Said...
    Unfortunately Bob few who post here are going to believe the evidence. "

    You are correct - perhaps the TSA should have a sit-down and scratch their head over WHY that could possibly be.

    Adrian said...

    Ambient radiation is not that same as focused radiation, so comparing effective dosage levels is meaningless.

    There are still zero studies on the effects of focused ionizing radiation on the cornea of the human eye.

    Anonymous said...

    Why don't you sit dowm scratch your head and realize that anyone with an I.Q. over 80 probably hates your guts.
    You guys are phase one of Federal goverment intrusion. I hope to hell this country hasn't gone so soft as to take this without a harsh push back.
    What you are doing is arguably treason. Clear userpation of the Bill of rights 4th and 10th ammendments.Starting to see exercising the 1st ammendment as arrestable in airports too.

    Anonymous said...

    Anyone who has ever sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States should have nothing to do with the TSA. I would rather beg on the streets than work with your lot. =)

    Anonymous said...

    Some people say that x-ray backscatter is safe, some say it is not safe. The jury is still out on this issue. Given this the TSA should do the following:
    (1) Everyone to be given a CHOICE (not a coercive opt-out) of either body scan OR a metal detector and ordinary pat-down ( no genital groping) and a sniffer dog search.
    If there is ANY doubt about the safety ( European Parliament want to ban x-ray backscatter on safety grounds) and privacy ( millimetre wave is less privacy intrusive)of x-ray backscatter then passengers must be allowed to choose not to be scanned - opt-out is not a genuine choice it is threatening and coercive.

    Anonymous said...

    I will not be virtually strip-searched using ionizing radiation in order to fly, no matter what your reports say.

    Anonymous said...

    Hrmm .005 millirem. So, at 60 scans an hour, 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week, how many cancerous growths are created in the TSO screener standing too close to the scanner? How many cases of testicular/ovarian cancer will be traceable to poorly shielded carry-on baggage scanners? Has the TSA even considered the exposure/time/dosage danger that exists?

    Until there is a dosimeter monitoring program in place, the TSA is playing fast and loose with the safety of the flying public and placing their employees in danger.

    Bob [not the blogger] said...

    Anonymous says:
    I will not be virtually strip-searched using ionizing radiation in order to fly, no matter what your reports say.

    Bob [not the blogger] says:
    That's your choice. After all, you got the Right to choose.

    Anonymous said...

    No they are not.

    See I can say it just as convincingly as you!

    SSSS for some reason said...

    Your presentation of the numbers are not quite right....

    This is not a comparative analysis of what generates how much radiation, it is a listing of all the sources of exposure to radiation.

    Exposure is cumulative. I drink six glass of water a day so that is approximately .1 millirem. Due to family health history I receive a chest x-ray annually so there is an additional 10. Same with Dental x-rays so there is some more radiation. Just living on earth gives me about 1 more annually. I am already up to an average of 16 millirems of exposure annually. And now you want to to assume the position of submission and stand in your scanner and add to that exposure? And, at least at my local airport, everyone has to get scanned twice so double the exposure and all for what? It has been pointed out again and again that these scanners are less effective at finding things that can bring down a plane, which is the reason you have them in the first place.

    Anonymous said...

    Why hasn't TSA responded to Dr. John P. Holden regarding the potential harmful effects of Back Scatter X_RAYS?

    Can TSA produce documents that certify all levels of radiation output of the back scatter x ray has been approved by EPA, FDA, and OSHA as being historically proven non-hazardous to use on reproductive organs, babies, pregnant mothers, and the elderly? From articles I have read, I see that; "A passenger is scanned by rastering or moving a single high energy x-ray beam rapidly over their form."
    Does the device utilize a HIGH ENERGY X-RAY BEAM?
    Are there any sources that can alay fears of potential harm from these x-rays?
    Are there any studies that prove it is not hazardous to reproductive organs, pregnant women, babies, children, and elderly after single or repeated exposures? Should lead shields be issued passengers and should the TSA staff near the machines be wearing radiation exposure tags?

    Brittany said...

    Such a great article which One year of naturally occurring background radiation 300 millirem Annual recommended limit to the public of radiation from man-made sources. In which Drinking three glasses of water a day for a year 0.045 millirem One backscatter X-ray scan Approximately 0.005 millirem. Thanks for sharing this article.

    Anonymous said...

    wow.. TSA parties have independently tested an operational TSA WBI Cancer Machine?SSC results 2013