Maintenance Report Shows Radiation Levels On Some TSA Scanners 10 Times Higher Than Promised

from the uh,-whoops dept

At the end of last year, we pointed to some discussions that suggested the TSA was being totally misleading in claiming that the new naked airport scanners had been shown to be totally safe when it came to radiation. While the studies the TSA used to make that claim only said that was the case if the machines were working properly, there was no evidence that the TSA was actually making sure the machines were working properly, or how easily they might not be working properly. Well, it appears that this may have been a much bigger issue than originally thought, as some maintenance on these machines has shown radiation levels 10 times the amount that they’re supposed to be emitting. The TSA has now agreed to retest all of the machines — though it still insists that these new reports were “mathematics mistakes.” Uh. Yeah.

But, really, the issue goes beyond that. If it’s so easy to make “math mistakes,” how do we know that the original “lower” reports from these machines was accurate? Assuming these readings were accurate, how long were these machines operating at 10x the radiation levels? How easy was it for the radiation levels to get so high? How will the TSA prevent it from happening again? Honestly, though, the people who should be most upset are the TSA workers who run these machines. It makes you wonder how much radiation they’re being exposed to on a daily basis.

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Comments on “Maintenance Report Shows Radiation Levels On Some TSA Scanners 10 Times Higher Than Promised”

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35 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Because you can trust TSA people.
They hire them using ads on top of pizza boxes.
They told us that theft did not happen with TSA staff, and when caught for the 10th time, they admitted maybe there were some rouge people.

Lets install the pornoscanners on all the doors in DC and make the critters have to walk thru them like the little people. How much you want to be they would be interested in the reports a bit more?

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Wow! Actually there might be a good use for a union to fight against radiation exposure. You would think, collectively, they would want to know why their sperm counts were low and slow…unless that is typical for TSA screeners. But you see, as ChurchHatesTucker pointed out, their leadership didn’t think radiation badges were an important safety measure for their members. (Double entendre FTW!)

John Doe says:

I called it first!

No, really I did. On prior posts here about the use of those scanners, I pointed out an article about a year ago about how emergency rooms were using CAT scans and the machines varied widely in how much energy they put out. Many were putting out way more than needed to do the job. If the healthcare industry can’t monitor themselves and they have been using X-rays for decades, how the hell is TSA going to do it?

Benjamin (profile) says:

Hmmm.

I share the concern over the scanners, and over the TSA’s less-than-forthcoming tendencies, but I feel compelled to point out that without solid numbers, we really can’t conclude that ten times the normal radiation emission from the machines comes anywhere close to harmful. As the current ongoing nulear power crisis in Japan illustrates, the emission of radioactive materials into the atmosphere at a rate many times that of normal can still be nowhere near a harmful dose – the US Navy has been reporting levels akin to a month of living on earth and being exposed to the sun every day.

…Of course, like in Japan, the issue could rapidly become much worse, and I hope to hell that it doesn’t. I just want to be sure that we don’t jump to conclusions on this. Yes, the TSA needs to be more transparent about these things, but if someone said they were giving me one daily dose of Vitimin d, and gave me ten, I’d still be in no danger. It’s only toxic at much, much higher levels. Gotta have the numbers to know.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Hmmm.

“we really can’t conclude that ten times the normal radiation emission from the machines comes anywhere close to harmful.”

That may be true but and since I avoid the whole thing for me it isn’t a big deal.

BUT

For someone passing through them multiple times a week or even worse, daily because they travel for work this is downright terrifying.

These machines have the potential to cause damage even if used properly. TSA has yet to demonstrate they can operate anything properly.

HothMonster says:

Re: Hmmm.

“if someone said they were giving me one daily dose of Vitimin d, and gave me ten, I’d still be in no danger.”

Hello Mr. TSA agent i would like my daily dose of potentially cancer inducting radiation please, and a double shot for my pregnant wife please she is radiating for two you know. Oh? I got ten times my daily does thank you ten times sir and my unborn child thanks you ten times as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmmm.

…I feel compelled to point out that without solid numbers, we really can’t conclude that ten times the normal radiation emission from the machines comes anywhere close to harmful.

Now, where have I heard similar apologetics before? Wait, let me guess, you used to be an apologist for the tobacco industry too, right?

“We can’t conclude that smoking comes anywhere close to harmful. Anecdotal observations that seem to suggest otherwise are just coincidental correlations and do not prove causation. Smoking is perfectly safe. If it is ever prov

Anonymous Coward says:

TSA workers don't actually know

I was standing in line at a major US airport less than a month ago while awaiting my opt-out grope and overhead (quite clearly) the TSA thug standing in front of me tell the woman next to me awaiting her opt-out grope that “the machines don’t use radiaton”.

By the way, I have been part of the design and engineering team for a CT scanner, and “measuring emitted radiation” turns out to be a far more difficult problem than it might at first seem, doubly so when we leave the realm of “testing on the factory floor” and enter the realm of “testing at an installation 2000 miles away and 4 years later”. We put enormous effort into this, as did every other maker, in our attempts to ensure that the machines were not only safe when they went out the door, but stayed safe when used in the field, even when used outside recommended operating procedures. But it’s a very hard problem under the best of circumstances, and those are NOT the circumstances we are seeing with the TSA’s scanners.

plancione says:

radiation doses work both ways

The collective worry from an overcalibrated body scanner device… If one fears that passengers are getting too high of a dose from the body scanners, then what do you think the TSA drones are getting dosed with as they stand beside the machine all day every day? Personally, I believe that passengers are getting a 15-30 sec dose which is harmless. But, the TSA folk are getting hammered with dangerous doses repeatedly. Remember, radiation dosage is cumulative.

Personally, I hope all those TSA morons are getting fatal doses. Serves them right!

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Oh... they knew about the radiation...

Here’s a direct quote from the operator’s manual:

“Now that your PornoScan (PS) is fully assembled, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the control panel. Let’s take a look at the four (4) status lights:

Power” – When power is on, this button will glow bright green. Due to improperly isolated isotopes, this light will also glow bright green when the device is off. A replacement containment device is on the way. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Note: The PS puts out a shitload (metric) of radiation when fully powered. Please maintain a distance of 15-20 feet when “Power” button is lit.

Standby Power” – A “power saving” setting. This will allow the device to quickly “boot up” upon passenger entry. This light will glow red when activated.

Note: This lower setting should allow you to come safely within 10 feet of the device. Be prepared to run 5-10 feet in under 0.2 seconds should a passenger enter the device thereby returning it to full power.

Standby” – Pretty much what passes for “Off” these days. Can still render you sterile within a diameter of 5 feet. Should you need to approach the device (for instance, to power up the PornoScan), please ensure your genitalia are covered with your hands and your body turned 30 degrees perpendicular to the egress of the machine. This button will glow orange if activated or if “Power” button is currently green.

PANIC” – This status light will glow red at all times UNLESS a meltdown or other catastrophic failure is detected by the onboard computer. At that point the light will switch off. DO NOT PANIC. When the PANIC light goes out, a signal is sent to the nearest TSA headquarters. Please remain calm and await further instructions. (Allow 4-6 weeks for signal delivery.)

Note: PANIC indicator light will go out when “Standby Power” is activated. This is a normal control panel function. Do not panic unless instructed otherwise.

plancione (profile) says:

hot legs

The collective worry from an overcalibrated body scanner device… If one fears that passengers are getting too high of a dose from the body scanners, then what do you think the TSA drones are getting dosed with as they stand beside the machine all day every day? Personally, I believe that passengers are getting a 15-30 sec dose which is harmless. But, the TSA folk are getting hammered with dangerous doses repeatedly. Remember, radiation dosage is cumulative.

Personally, I hope all those TSA morons are getting fatal doses. Serves them right!

Benjamin (profile) says:

I love that I can post a comment that is *critical of the TSA* and be called an “apologist.” I make no apologies for the TSA, but it’s inappropriate to make assumptions about dangerous doses of anything, when there are absolutely no numbers being discussed. We all receive measurable doses of radiation every day. We also consume toxins and harmful bacteria.

The TSA needs to come clean with the numbers. I too, suspect that it won’t, and more alarmingly, I suspect that the reason that it’s not doing so is that it would have to admit some pretty serious mistakes, and no arm of our government readily does that.

So yes, anonymously argue on the internet, but my point (had you bothered actually thinking about it) is that when we throw up our hands and panic about a number that is ten times another number, we are being hysterical until such time as we know both what the numbers are, and what they mean. Expressing concern over a safety issue is one thing. Acting as if we know that there is a cover-up of eminent danger is another. Show me that the TSA is knowingly hiding evidence of harmful radiation exposure, and I’ll be the first one at the barricades.

Tobacco companies, as with everyone else, knew for decades that their products were harming and killing. We don’t know that about these machines, but hell, I’ll opt for the pat down anyway, because I *don’t* know – not because I *do.*

Rwolf says:

DHS Scanners To Secretly Search Your Body, Vehicle and Home?X-ray Deaths Next?

Department Homeland Security and Police intend to use hundreds of new X-ray Back Scatter Vans and other scanners with long-distance capability to secretly scan and search lawful persons? bodies?when driving, walking and X-ray Citizens in their homes. DHS plans to mount X-ray scanners on buildings and utility poles to monitor groups of pedestrians. Citizens that drive or walk to work or lunch in monitored areas may be radiated several times a day.

There is nothing to stop government agencies and police repeatedly targeting (persons of interest) on the street and in their homes with X-ray scans that may cause cancer or induce other medical problems?including individuals afflicted by poor health. DHS new scanning will record eye and facial features of pedestrians, so subjects can be identified for covert X-ray scanning. Consequently some Americans may be X-ray scanned every time they set foot on the street.

How could anyone prove his or her cancer was caused by repeated government X-ray scans? Can you think of one U.S. Government agency you would trust to limit the number of times and duration secret Government scanners can penetrate a person?s body with X-ray radiation, when walking, driving; inside their home? Citizens driving or walking to work, that must pass DHS X-ray scanners on buildings and utility poles, could be exposed to radiation several times a day. The press recently reported that X-ray scanners now used at airports are 10-times greater that what U.S. Government told the American People.
Currently Citizens can purchase small sensitive radiation detectors on key chains that set off different sounding alarms for each radiation level detected. Key Chain radiation detectors sell for about $160.00 and some appear capable of detecting government X-ray scanners penetrating their home, or their body when walking or vehicle when driving. It should be expected more pedestrians might start carrying radiation key chain detectors to learn if X-ray scanners on buildings and utility poles are targeting their neighborhood, the streets they drive or walk. Radiated pedestrians and drivers should protest, especially if they are being hit everyday with X-ray scanners.
The U.S. can?t become a total Police State until the 4th Amendment is either terminated or so watered down it has no legal effect. That will be the result if government / police are allowed (without probable cause or warrants) to expose the public to covert X-ray scans and scans at airports; train and bus stops and other check points.
One can?t help wonder if today?s outspoken Americans that lawfully defend the Constitution, e.g., writers and bloggers will be deemed combatants by U.S. Government; constantly stopped, searched, and questioned by TSA and police; forced to endure no warrant searches of their car, body and forced cancer causing X-ray scans. The Nazi Military and Police repeatedly searched and delayed Citizens labeled politically undesirable boarding trains and buses and driving to work to cause targeted Citizens to lose their jobs. Citizens were placed on (Nazi do not hire lists) similar to the lists U.S. Homeland Security started in 2010.

See: TSA, DHS plan massive rollout of mobile surveillance vans with long-distance X-ray capability, eye movement tracking and more at:
http://www.naturalnews.com/031603_surveillance_police_state.html#ixzz1GGDd24RG

steve2 says:

radiation

The TSA is trying to make the scanners more acceptable by saying the new machines don’t show you naked like the old ones. The radiation alone makes the scanners unacceptable and a danger to your health. If you fly a lot, you’ve got to be worried. I don’t know why the airlines don’t complain. This could lead to a lot less people flying.

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