Thursday, June 30, 2011

TSA Cancer Cluster Myth Buster

This is old news, but it’s back in the news and since it’s such an important topic, we wanted to address it again to alleviate any concerns it might be causing.

Myth: There is a TSA employee cancer cluster at the Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) related to the backscatter body scanners.

Fact:  There is no relationship between any cancer diagnoses in Boston and the technology in the airport. (Based on a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). In fact, there were no body scanners at BOS when the complaints were filed.

I blogged about this back in May, but all of our X-ray technology (backscatter body scanners, and all baggage scanners) has been tested and retested and our scanners are operating safely. You can actually take a look at the reports and read about how we test the machines here

Common Questions: 

Q: Why aren’t your officers permitted to wear dosimeters? 

A: There is a really good reason for this. The emissions from our X-ray technology are well below the requirements that would require their routine usage. To  help reassure passengers and employees that the technology is safe, however, health physicists with the U.S. Army have been conducting area dosimeter surveys at multiple airports nationwide.

Q: Why doesn’t TSA allow third party testing for the backscatter technology?

A: We have. Independent third party testing and analyses of TSA backscatter technology have been conducted by the U.S. Army Public Health Command, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). They all came to the same conclusion by the way. It’s safe…

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


Anonymous said...

Bob can't even answer his own questions without being evasive.

Anonymous said...

Liar liar pants on fire! Well at least I won't get cancer from your cancer machines. I stopped flying in October of 2010. When you people come to your senses, I'll start spending my money on transportation again. I'm going to affect change with my wallet. The American Way.

Sandra said...

Way to deflect, Bob.

Screen shot

RB said...

NIST says TSA claims that they tested your machines is not true.

Please respond to this continuing lie.

Anonymous said...

Another document indicates that the DHS mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST "affirmed the safety" of full body scanners. The documents obtained by EPIC reveal that NIST disputed that characterization and stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test the devices. Also, a Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the "General Public Dose Limit."

Anonymous said...

Does the TSA understand that when they publish information that is so easily proven incorrect, they make it harder for the public to trust them?

Anonymous said...

I used to give the TSA the benefit of the doubt, but after reading the stuff on EPIC, I now realize the TSA cannot be trusted to be truthful.

Anonymous said...

In a traditional (normal) medical setting, these types of machines are only operated by certified techs. Are TSA agents medically certified by the state they work in?

Additionally, a state inspector comes every month to certify that the machines are calibrated correctly. On doing so, the inspection statement is hung in a visible area near the machine (visible to the public) with the date of inspecton and the inspectors name. I have never seen such a statement on or near the airport machines.

Furthermore, in a medical setting, the body part not being scanned is covered by lead to protect sensative tissue areas. NEVER is the entire body scanned.

*I find it very interesting that you are posting about this rather than the Nigerian who passed through TSA security multiple times only to be caught by a flight attendant.

Ayn R. Key said...

If it is so safe, why won't you allow your TSOs to wear dosimeters?

Anonymous said...

Seems John's Hopkins isn't too happy with the TSA
A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins said the people who did the testing were unhappy with the way the TSA characterized the study. The safety of the machines is a somewhat different question, she said.

Anonymous said...

Regarding #1) Saying 'we dont need dosimiters because the machines are safe' is analagous to my saying 'we dont need the TSA scanners because flying is safe'. *if* you are to be believed n the safety margins of your machines, then the probability of getting cancer from them is effectively equivalent to someone dying from a terrorist attack on a plane. So, using your own logic, we don't need the AIT machines in the first place!

Regarding #2) No third party not affiliated with the manufacturer has tested a field deployed device. JHU and NIST have both publicly discounted the tests you keep referencing to them. Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

No independent tests of your machines were conducted. All that these organizations stated is that the radiation doses you say they generate are medically "safe", but even that is relative, since in airports these machines bring no health benefit whatsoever, and the sheer number of people scanned means they will cause cancer in a number of persons. Certainly many more than terrorists caught by the TSA (zero).

Anonymous said...

RB said…
Please respond to this continuing lie.
So, what your saying is that you would rather believe what may or may not be an email from one person to another, both of who’s names have been redacted, with no identifying information of any kind as to the source of the email (i.e. IP address, domain name, etc.) and which has been posted to the EPIC website, an organization with a vested interest in the outcome of any litigation?

NIST says on its own web site: “Over the years, the scientists and technical staff at NIST have made solid contributions to image processing, DNA diagnostic "chips," smoke detectors, and automated error-correcting software for machine tools. Just a few of the other areas in which NIST has had major impact include atomic clocks, X-ray standards for mammography, scanning tunneling microscopy, pollution-control technology, and high-speed dental drills.”

Sounds to me RB like they are in a good position to make an assessment of the safety of the AIT devices which TSA uses, which is of course exactly what was asked of them and what they did. Yes, there is a lie in progress, the question is why are you and others supporting that lie?

Anonymous said...

Two points here. One, documents don't lie. If they pose no risk, why do they suggest having side shields installed? If the dose is SO low, why bother? Two...another example of the WORTHLESS nature of the TSA - Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, a Nigerian man can breeze through security while grannies and 4 year olds are fondled in the name of security. You all are a JOKE and we all know it...and see it!

AK-VStrom said...

Bob, just about every response you give here is either evasive, misleading or a flat-out lie. To wit:

"Q: Why aren't your officers permitted to wear dosimeters?
A: ...The emissions from our X-ray technology are well below the requirements that would require...usage"

Well, if you've got nothing to hide, then why not permit it? It would reassure both your workers and the flying public. Furthermore, Johns Hopkins University says that dosages around the machines *could* exceed limits ( In other words, there is no way to tell if a backscatter imaging device is calibrated correctly or not when a TSO directs me towards one.

"Q: Why doesn't TSA allow third party testing for backscatter technology?
A: ...testing and analyses...have been conducted by...NIST..."

Really? Because *they* said otherwise ( also from

You can spin the TSA's illegal policies any way you want, but there is a growing number of Americans -- myself included -- who will *NOT* fly again until TSA backs off from it's invasive, degrading, immoral and illegal policies.

Wimpie said...

Good job putting the airlines in bankruptcy. I don't fly any more and neither does anyone in my family. I bought a new car and it's "read trip" for us!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Bob - Your not even trying anymore.

Army only performed surveys at three airports.

NIST specifically said they they did not tell you these were safe, and suggested your TSO's stay away from them and wear dosimeters.

FDA said they have never tested these machines.

Johns Hopkins also said they they did not test the machines. They were given specs from the manufacturer.

Truth is that no one other then the manufacturer has tested these units. Taking the manufacturers claim and giving that to a third party does not constitute a test. Would you allow your family to ride in a car that the manufacturer wont allow third party crash testing to be done?

Backscatter units have been at BOS since 2002. Long enough for a cancer cluster to form.

You really don't care at all about the health and welfare of your TSO's.

Anonymous said...

TSA employees can't read boarding passes(twice) based on this week's news...why would any reasonably intelligent American believe your repeated and information-lacking claims about potential health hazards? Your inept agency disgraces our country. If the TSA leadership had any respect for themselves and taxpayers, they would resign.

Anonymous said...

So, Bob, were there too many posts calling you out on the "remove it or don't fly today" "choice" offered the 95-year-old woman? Just had to slap another post up here right away, huh?

all of our X-ray technology ... has been tested and retested

Yeah, by idiots who can't divide by 10 to get an average result.

The emissions from our X-ray technology are well below the requirements that would require [dosimeter] routine usage.

That explains why you don't require them to wear them, but not why you specifically ban them from wearing them. Which was the original question.

A: We have [allowed third party testing of backscatter].

Were those LIVE machines in airports, or some test setup somewhere?

Oh, and please respond to this: - NIST says they didn't test your machines.

Anonymous said...

Hospitals and dentists offices dont even do this. They hide behind a lead wall and tell you to limit your exposure to x-rays. Xray technicians are required to wear dosimeters to protect their health and TSA is worried about public perception of wearing a small dosimeter tag the size of a quarter? Prohibiting employees from buying their own, with their own money and wearing them. They can be purchased for as little as $50 year and you mail them back to a lab quarterly.

f2000 said...

Unless the scanners are blasting truly massive amounts of radiation, I can't imagine that they have been in place long enough to actually account for a cancer cluster (Yet?).

The story also comes from Alex Jones' That's actually all you need to point out to effectively refute the story.

I still think the TSA needs to go away, though. Soon.

Anonymous said...

As if it's not bad enough that we've spent $52 billion dollars on the TSA taxpayers are going to be paying out settlements to TSA agents who get cancer from these ridiculous machines.

You don't need a crystal ball to see that one coming...

Anonymous said...

"The emissions from our X-ray technology are well below the requirements that would require their routine usage."
Meaning it's not because they're safe, but just because you don't have to.

"To help reassure passengers and employees that the technology is safe, however, health physicists with the U.S. Army have been conducting area dosimeter surveys at multiple airports nationwide."
Are they measuring exposure at the point of peak exposure? This answer is like saying the danger from smoke inhalation with your head inside your fireplace is negligible because the smoke detector in your garage and bathroom aren't going off.

Concerned Observer said...

Some of us appreciate the post. However, it is rather lacking. Have any TSOs ever worn dosimeters? Are there any locations where data points on radiation are being collected daily?

Yes, there is no proven link between the cancer cluster and the WBI. Indeed, I would say the more likely culprit is one of the carry on x-rays, perhaps a faulty lead curtain or somesuch.

However, I would like to know what statistical test was used to show that there is no significant likelihood that the backscatter WBIs are not to blame.

Thank you.

abelard said...

Johns Hopkins NEVER said the scanners were safe. They specifically said the scanners met some ANSI standard.

In fact, Johns Hopkins called out the TSA for the way the study was characterized vis-a-vis Johns Hopkins involvement.

Who should I believe? A respected university or the TSA?

Anonymous said...

In order to save you time I have written the only blog post you ever need to use.
"We have reviewed the incident and all of our agents acted according to protocol. Nothing is or ever has been our fault. Remember, you should be really afraid of foreigners because I really need to keep my job." You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

anon said:
"I'm going to affect change with my wallet. The American Way."

i think its working, most airlines reported record profits in 2010...

Anonymous said...

John Hopkins has never called your machines safe. Why do you perpetuate an outright lie?

Rebecca said...

Johns Hopkins has never said the scanners were "safe." John Hopkins publicly called out the TSA for its misleading statements regarding Johns Hopkins involvement with the testing of the scanners. John Hopkins will only say DHS and TSA only asked JH to test to see if the scanners met a specific ANSI standard.

TSA and DHS needs to stop misleading the public as to what the experts have said. The bottom line is that TSA and DHS has NEVER released a machine or machines to be tested independently nor has it ever provided evidence of a peer reviewed study about the efficacy and safety of these machines. Seriously. As in now.

Anonymous said...

On 5/26 Blogger Bob posted "The Radiation Retest Results ....".

In that post he provided some interesting facts which included:

* Annual recommended limit to the public of radiation from man-made sources: 100 millirem

* One backscatter X-ray scan: Approximately 0.005 millirem

My concern is for the Security Officers on the front lines. At a high volume checkpoint that I go through often, one shift of employees will process in excess of 6000 passengers per shift. If you apply some basic match and factor in emissions from other Radiation producing equipment in the vacinity (such as the x-ray for your belongings, those trace machines, etc.), a high volume checkpoint will generate in excess of 12,000 millirem from man made sources. This exceeds the annual recommended limit by man-made sources by 120x. So, is the TSA and it's independent evaluators concluding that a Security Officer is exposed to less than 1% of this man-made sources of millirem?

Anonymous said...

Third party testing is not the same as independent testing. How about some test data from more than one non-government organization?

Also, I'd love to see data from TSA employees wearing dosimeters anyway. If it's safe, you have nothing to hide. Open operating policies should be the core of every government organization/agency.

Adrian said...

Myth: NIST tested the AIT machines for safety.

Fact: NIST does not do product testing. NIST did not test AIT machines for safety. NIST measured the dose of a single machine and compared it against the standard.

Fact: The Johns Hopkins University report recommended additional action "to ensure that the ... general public does recommendataion of less than 100 mrem per year is being met." They did this because the machines leak radiation near the top. Note that the TSA reports on test measurements indicate that they do not test the amount of radiation emitted near the top of the machine.

Myth: The TSA allows third party testing of the whole-body imagers.

Fact: TSA does not allow independent third party testing. They allow only the studies they commission. And they don't release all of the information unless compelled to via a FOIA request.

Myth: Because the machines meet the national standards, they are safe.

Fact: There are no studies on the effects of focused ionizing radiation on certain human tissues, such as the corneas of the eyes. Thus there is insufficient data upon which to base a safety standard for this type of usage.

Myth: The TSA will use every technological measure available to make us as safe as possible.

Fact: The TSA won't even protect their own employees with a simple wearable dosimeter even though they work adjacent to checkpoint and baggage x-ray machines as well as whole-body imagers that use ionizing radiation.

Adrian said...

Blogger Bob wrote, "There is no relationship between diagnoses in Boston and the technology in the airport. (Based on a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)." [emphasis added]

The report says, "we believe that it is unlikely that the cancers reports are associated with exposures from the TSA baggage screening machines at BLIA." [emphasis added]

But we'll never know for sure. And the TSA won't even allow their employeess to wear dosimeters, which, ya know, might give us some actual data to base some of these conclusions on. Data might lead to liability, and we certainly couldn't have that.

Anonymous said...

Hrm.. The TSA issues a glowing statement about the radiation levels given off by their scanning equipment.

TSA Abuse Watch said...


You can't even give your own questions a straight answer.

By the way, NIST disputes your assertions.

Anonymous said...

Well,of course theyre going to deny it and claim theyre "safe" or they couldnt still use them.And whose going to believe these so called "tests" done by the same ones that are selling them are not going to tell us the truth.So this is all donkey doo doo

Anonymous said...

I usually ignore stupid responses from people that really do not know what they are talking about, but in this case the proof RB offers tears his own claim apart. "NIST measured the dose of a single machine and compared it against standard." Where does this not fit the claim that the organizations including NIST conducted tests or analyses. I would say this fits the description of anayses. Read your own proof before you offer it as fact.

Anonymous said...

Translation: "We belligerently and ignorantly continue to believe that the security that our tactics and technology provide is far more important than any concerns for public health and safety."

Anonymous said...

The title of this post makes it sound like it would address the 'cancer clusters' that have been reported in Boston. Would you care to *actually* address that issue?

Anonymous said...

Hardly a day goes by without some embarrassing revelation about the TSA. If it's not some dunderheaded TSO humiliating a disabled passenger, it might be baggage screeners who continue stealing for months under their bosses' watchful eye until someone finally finishes typing up letters of proposed removal. Or it might be a deranged Nigerian who somehow slips through all the "layers" with a fake ticket.

But no matter how much of a storm of outrage these revelations create, Blogger Bob and his merry men are steadfast in reiterating the Message: The TSA is an infallible and impenetrable bulwark against terrorists, staffed by highly trained, highly competent professionals who treat all passengers with respect and courtesy, and can do no wrong.

Whenever a TSO does something embarrassing, we can count on Bob to keep us informed about the TSA's thorough investigation that somehow always proves the TSO acted properly. And then he'll helpfully explain exactly what the passenger did wrong to cause the incident. Because the TSA is always right, the passenger must always be at fault.

And when a TSO does something (like getting caught stealing) that can't be defended, Bob will tell us that some kind of action was taken. But as all TSA employees have an absolute right to privacy, he can't tell us more than that. It's still worth a self-congratulatory post about "accountability."

When concerns about something refuse to go away, such as the safety of scanners that subject passengers to ionizing radiation, we can count on Bob to declare them "myths," which he then "busts" with some variation on You're wrong. Can't tell you why because it's SSI. You're just wrong. Trust us. And if that's too much work, Bob can always respond to concerns by ignoring or deflecting them.

Perhaps the Federal Government could save some money by replacing this blog with with a simple static page containing the TSA logo and a banner proclaiming THE TSA IS NEVER WRONG!

Anonymous said...

As usual you're misleading the public by phrasing the question "Why doesn’t TSA allow third party testing for the backscatter technology?" instead of "Why doesn't TSA allow third party testing of the backscatter machines used in airports?" Of course the reason is then you'd have to admit third parties have not tested the actual backscatter machines! This is a good example of why the public doesn't trust TSA and what you say.

Jonathan said...

We should be down on our knees thanking our hardworking TSA agents for the work they do, especially when they have to suffer all of the indignities that we americans have heaped upon them. Now were telling them it's potentially fatal for them to stand next to the scanners. We shouldn't do that. we in fact should encourage them to stand NEXT to the scanners, because they are safe. They should appear as well dressed as their minimum wage will allow them to be. They should never be treated like animals when thier whole jobs are about requiring them to do extensive patdowns. Come on people, these are our fellow Americans. We shoudl be treating them with the same amount of courtesy and dignity they treat us with.

Anonymous said...

This makes no sense Bob. Nearly EVERYONE who wears dosimeters isn't SUPPOSED to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, they wear them to make sure it's a safe level. That's like saying "We don't wear seatbelts because these cars aren't supposed to crash". If these things are safe, let TSOs wear dosimeters like every other person in the world who works around x-rays.

Make sure you fight the good fight and make it so your TSO buddies can't figure out if they're going to get cancer from this or not.

Anonymous said...

@RB: Please read the letter again. It clearly states that NIST tested the performance of the AIT system against the performance standards and found that it met those standards. Those performance standards do not draw a conclusion about "safety", it ONLY says that machines must operate below 25 microrem per scan. The machines that have been tested by independent groups operate at 5 to 8 times below that threshold.

If you're OK flying at altitude for 2 minutes, the you have nothing to worry about with these machines. They're absolutely safe!

Anonymous said...

RB what is that supposed to prove? its what looks like a completely random email from who knows what with no evidence of any kind for making any kind of claim. Because truthful factual information that has been verified and proven comes from a place called

Anonymous said...

really didnt answer the question as to why tso cant wear their own dosimeters...

"Q: Why aren’t your officers permitted to wear dosimeters?

A: There is a really good reason for this. The emissions from our X-ray technology are well below the requirements that would require their routine usage. To help reassure passengers and employees that the technology is safe, however, health physicists with the U.S. Army have been conducting area dosimeter surveys at multiple airports nationwide."

Anonymous said...

Once again you are making the claim that Johns Hopkins said the scanners are safe. You know full well that claim is false. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have already called on you stop misrepresenting their work and their conclusions. Sir, my taxes pay your salary. As your boss I demand you stop lying to me.

Chris Boyce said...

The TSA refused to allow APL access to a production unit to test. Other posters have documented the NIST rebuttals. You guys don't even know how to conduct independent analyses.

Bob, do you really believe this stuff or is it just a paycheck? If it's just a paycheck, I would rather you do creative writing in the private sector. Your TSA can be rolled into a 401k. Same goes for your boss.

(Screen shot made.)

Anonymous said...

I dont know much about dosimeters or radiation, but your response is the textbook fallacy of "begging the question". That is, you are assuming the very thing that is at stake to prove your point.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
RB said…
Please respond to this continuing lie.
So, what your saying is that you would rather believe what may or may not be an email from one person to another, both of who’s names have been redacted,
Anon I will believe EPIC everyday and twice on Sundays before I believe anything posted by TSA, the most corrupt bunch of liars in the whole of United States government.

Anonymous said...

U.S. Army Public Health Command, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

are not independent third parties...

Also many of these organizations said their findings were mischaracterized and exaggerated.

Anonymous said...

I have a genetically increased risk of deadly melanoma, necessitating semiannual skin examinations. I've also had non-melanoma skin cancer. My dermatologist has thus strongly advised me to refuse the scanners, even if it means having an angry TSO squeeze my testicles in retaliation. (Bob would of course insist that such a thing violates TSA procedures, and therefore has never happened, will never happen, and can never happen. Unfortunately, there too often seems to be a disconnect between the official policies Bob reiterates here and the "unpredictable" implementation at checkpoints. But I digress.)

My doctor explained that the absolute amount of radiation the scanners emit may be small and "safe." But the effect of specifically directing that radiation on the skin, as in the scanners, has never been studied. And to his knowledge, it has never even been explicitly measured. Since cumulative radiation exposure contributes to cancer, he concludes that the unknown exposure of my skin to radiation in the scanner would create an unacceptable risk.

Could someone please tell me why I should disregard my doctor's reasoned advice in favor of Blogger Bob's repeated assertion that "Our tests prove it's safe beyond any doubt. Trust us."?

Adrian said...

Why was my Myth/Fact comment not posted? It complied with the Comment Policy in its entirety. And you did post another comment of mine that I made at a later time.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob: If "There is a really good reason for this" it is missing from your "A."

There may not have been AIT at BOS when the complaints were filed, but there were check-point x-ray machines that officers site close to and huge checked-bag machines that officers are pitching luggage into all day long.

My tiny little cell phone can cause cancer.

Your responses are disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Such a glowing review of TSA's ability to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

Here's an PR idea to prove the new back scatter scanner are 'safe' and don't expose the TSOs to radiation levels that would affect them in the long term.....Director Pistol and/or Secretary Napolitano have one installed in such a manner that they work in as close proximity to the devices as the require the TSOs running them. (oh and they need to be used at the same rate....maybe to scan vistors entering their offices, I mean 'out of an abundance of caution.'...)

George said...

I have a genetically-based high risk of deadly melanoma. I've also had non-melanoma skin cancer. The dermatologist I visit for my semiannual skin exams has strongly recommended that I refuse the scanners, even if it means a humiliating and painful retaliatory pat down.

According to my dermatologist, the total amount of radiation emitted by the scanners may be "safe," according to industrial exposure standards. But the scanners specifically direct that radiation onto the skin. The effects of this type of radiation exposure have never been specifically studied, so the risk is unknown.

However, published studies have proved that cumulative exposure to radiation contributes to skin cancer. Given my heightened susceptibility to skin cancer, whatever unknown risk the scanners create is unacceptable for me. Perhaps the risk may eventually become known, thanks to the millions of people who "consent" to becoming guinea pigs when they buy a plane ticket. But he strongly advises me against participating in the TSA's "experiment" in irradiating large numbers of human subjects.

Could someone please give me a good reason why I should disregard my dermatologist's reasoned advice, and instead believe Blogger Bob's claims that "Our own tests prove beyond any doubt that the scanners are safe for everyone. Trust us."?

Hendrick Smit said...

Now this is what you call a self-destructive blog.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that any competent, reputable scientist not employed by the DHS would accept the TSA's apparent assertion that there is zero risk to repeatedly irradiating millions of people.

If this were a rational country, the TSA would not deploy the scanners until independent experts have fully assessed both the effectiveness and the risks of the scanners, and conclusively determined that the benefits significantly outweigh whatever risks irradiating millions of passengers create.

Unfortunately, the TSA does not operate that way. The TSA's leaders met in secret and decided that the scanners shall be deployed. And having made that decision, nothing can stop it.

Of course, they would much prefer that we just Believe that the scanners provide an enormous security benefit with no risk. Then nobody would hesitate to enter the scanner and assume the "mugging" position when the TSO bellows the command. And screening would be as easy and efficient as possible for the TSOs.

But the TSA's Leaders surely know that there are many valid reasons why people cannot accept the scanners. Unfortunately, they've chosen to address this problem with a condescending propaganda campaign to deny, conceal, deflect, and ignore the many legitimate concerns.

The dosimeter ban may be part of the campaign. If TSOs wore dosimeters, they might raise visible concerns about the radiation risk. It's entirely possible that in their zeal to deploy scanners that have not been adequately tested for either effectiveness or safety, the TSA's Leaders are willing to risk the health and safety of their own employees, to conceal doubts about the safety of the scanners.

Since the TSA's Primary Operating Procedure is to avoid any accountability for anything, their Leaders know they can apply the same strategy of denial and deflection to their own employees should suspicions of a "cancer cluster" arise. And indeed, that's what they now seem to be doing.

Anonymous said...

So TSA employees aren't allowed to ensure their safety by wearing dosimeters because they don't need to? Yay safety!

Anthony Ventresca said...

Show me the Beef! All I read from NIST & EPIC is regurgitated blather from previously written stories that can't be sourced for fact! No-I don't want to hear from self described cancer experts, I have cancer and I work at Logan. And insofar as the IBT John Hopkins story: you should really go to Kelly Classic's website (the spokeswoman quoted as claiming that Johns Hopkins was unhappy with the way the TSA characterized the study) She states on her Website that "we would need to have over one million scans in a relatively short period of time to be clinically observable"
Really brave of you all to be Anonymous!

Mike said...

Bob said: all of our X-ray technology (backscatter body scanners, and all baggage scanners) has been tested and retested and our scanners are operating safely. You can actually take a look at the reports and read about how we test the machines here.

Keep trying, Bob. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will start believing it.


Anonymous said...

When the incidents for skin cancer start to rise dramatically and people try and blame the sun exposure. I hope we do not forget the useless back scatter machines Americans are subjecting their selves to. If you must fly people opt for the pat down. Better to have someone feel you up than to get life threatening cancer.

Anonymous said...

"If you're OK flying at altitude for 2 minutes, the you have nothing to worry about with these machines."

Atmospheric radiation mostly passes all the way through your body without stopping. What little radiation is absorbed does so generally evenly throughout the body volume.

Airport scanners concentrate ALL emissions that intersect the body on the first few millimeters of dermal tissue.

It's not the same thing at all.

John Smith. said...

Why then do you not provide dosimeters to the employees to alleviate their worries??? Hmmmmm? They are dirt cheap and your little buddies the marshals have plenty of them...

Anonymous said...

Earlier in the blog, someone said that because the cancer cluster story originated on the Alex Jones website it should be discredited immediately.
Now, I sometimes have doubts about the validity of Alex's stuff, but when it comes to the TSA, I ALWAYS have doubts.
Blogger Bob, et. al. have distorted, misled, misrepresented and outright lied about everything.
Your chances are far greater to have your stuff stolen from your luggage than to be in an airplane with a "terrorist."

Stan said...

Why does TSA continue to lie about the conclusions made by Johns Hopkins even after they have disputed your claims as misrepresenting their study of the scanners? Do you fail to recognize how this continued lying does nothing but hurt your credibility with the public?

Brent said...

Oh Bob...I think you might want to rephrase what you said here. It seems Johns Hopkins has a little different take on what TSA says.

"The Transportation Security Administration is referencing a Johns Hopkins study on its web site, saying that the full-body x-ray scanners are safe to use. But Johns Hopkins is unhappy with the way that study is being used...

But Johns Hopkins says that its study only demonstrates that the radiation dosage is under the limit set by ANSI. A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins said the people who did the testing were unhappy with the way the TSA characterized the study. The safety of the machines is a somewhat different question, she said..."

If TSA couldn't get this right I fail to understand how they can actually operate the machines correctly.

Chris said...

Q: Why aren’t your officers permitted to wear dosimeters?

A: There is a really good reason for this. The emissions from our X-ray technology are well below the requirements that would require their routine usage.

So everything that is not compulsory is forbidden? This is a really good reason why they are not required to wear dosimeters, but a truly awful reason why they are not allowed to wear them.

RB said...

Seems my asking if TSA employees trust TSA leadership about the claims of the x-ray systems being harmless to the operators somehow violated TSA Blog posting guidelines.

In what way did my comment violate these terms?

Screen shot taken!

Alex said...

JHU and NIST have both publicly discounted the tests you keep referencing to them. Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

Look at all the so called "FDA" approved technology, medicines,etc that years down the road, they find out were not really safe. Just because you tell me these x-ray machines are "FDA approved" does not mean anything.

TSA, What is your response to the following excerpts I found on a CNN News Health report????

"Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, takes a pat-down instead of going through a scanner when he travels. He says he's concerned about whether the machines are calibrated and inspected properly.

"USA Today did a piece on how badly TSA maintained their X-ray equipment for carryon bags, and this gave me little confidence," he wrote to me in an e-mail.

Brawley's deputy concurs.

"I do whatever I can to avoid the scanner," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld wrote to me in an e-mail.

He says as a frequent flier, he's concerned about the cumulative effect of the radiation.

"This is a total body scan -- not a dental or chest X-ray," he wrote to me. "Total body radiation is not something I find very comforting based on my medical knowledge."

Or how about this finding :
"Another doctor who opts for the pat-down is Dr. Dong Kim, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' neurosurgeon.

"There is really no absolutely safe dose of radiation," says Kim, chair of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School. "Each exposure is additive, and there is no need to incur any extra radiation when there is an alternative."

This was echoed by several other physicians, including Dr. Andrew Weil.

"All radiation exposure adds to the cumulative total you've received over your lifetime," Weil wrote to me in an e-mail. "Cancer risks correlate with that number, so no dose of radiation is too small to matter."

Please address these posts.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

TSA-- can you please explain these warnings?

"Reproductive Danger


Repeated radiation to the reproductive area of both men and women can cause long-term harm to themselves and future children. While some experts posit that an individual would have to go through a 3D body scanners 243 times every day before there is an actual health risk, frequent fliers, pilots and flight attendants all worry about the risk to their reproductive systems.These effects include infertility, causing, development or genetic problems for future children. In females the same is true, a heightened risk of infertility, genetic problems and also an increased risk for future miscarriages.

Pregnant Women


Pregnant women affected by radiation in the first trimester are at the most risk for potential harm. Exposure to radiation in early pregnancy can cause miscarriage, birth defects and growth retardation. It can also affect the fetus' neurological system, which may cause learning disabilities and motor function problems for the child later in life. Pregnant women beyond the 20th week of pregnancy are less at risk for any kind of radiation exposure problems, with no real risk for miscarriage or birth defects.

Danger to Children


Besides the obvious dangers of young children being exposed to radiation, there are other dangers to children using 3D body scanners. Many parents are worried about graphic images of their child's genital areas taken by the scanners. Parents, concerned about child pornography, are worried that these graphic pictures of their children will be kept and may get into the wrong hands. Major airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has not revealed what happens to these scans after they are taken.

Skin Danger


Using x-ray type of radiation repeatedly at the airport may cause basal cell carcinoma, and other types of skin cancer. This type of cancer primarily occurs on the head and neck of those inflicted, and for this reason many doctors do not believe that individuals should have their head and neck scanned in an airport 3D scanner. The skin receives the most amount of radiation, as it has more surface area than any other human organ.

Read more: Dangers of 3D Body Scanners |

Anonymous said...

Heather Fazio said...

"In fact, there were no body scanners at BOS when the complaints were filed."


Scanners were deployed in early March of 2010, reports were filed in May 2010.


Anonymous said...

Is the rumor true that Walmart is using covert scanning technologies now?

Sodbuilders said...

Such a fabalus review on TSA's ability to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

Also, the National Institute of Standards and Technology says that the Dept. of Homeland Security 'mischaracterized' their work by telling USA Today that NIST affirmed the safety of the scanners when in fact NIST does not do product safety testing and never tested a scanner for safety."


So apparently NIST did not confirm the safety of the machines.

Shirley Stark said...

I really wish I didn't have such a hard time believing this. I *want* it to be true, but the TSA is hardly convincing.

If all of these things really were true, then how come there are so many warnings taken into account - pregnant women, women with young children, etc., etc.? Can you address that particular issue once and for all? I hate having to feel nervous flying with my baby.