Why You Should Avoid Airport Scanners in the USA

In the US there has been a great outcry against the naked body X-ray scanners recently introduced into American airports as a counter terrorism measure. The transport safety authority (TSA) has always claimed that they were safe, but this has been greatly disputed by many in the health media and now it seems also by authorities who certainly seem to know what they are talking about.

It appears that TSA faked its safety data on its X-ray airport scanners in order to deceive the public about the safety of such devices. The evidence has emerged thanks to the revelations of a letter signed by five professors from the University of California, San Francisco and Arizona State University. The letter reveals:

• To this day, there has been no credible scientific testing of the TSA’s naked body scanners. The claimed “safety” of the technology by the TSA is based on rigged tests.

• The testing that did take place was done on a custom combination of spare parts rigged by the manufacturer of the machines (Rapidscan) and didn’t even use the actual machines installed in airports.

• The names of the researchers who conducted the radiation tests at Rapidscan have been kept secret. This means the researchers are not available for scientific questioning of any kind, and there has been no opportunity to even ask whether they are qualified to conduct such tests.

Further, none of the Rapidscan tests have been available to be subjected to peer review. They are quite literally secret tests using secret techniques engineered by secret researchers. We the People apparently have no right to see the data, nor the methodology, nor even the names of the researchers who supposedly carried out these safety tests.

What is perhaps the most worrying aspect is that the final testing report produced from this fabricated testing scenario has been so heavily redacted that “there is no way to repeat any of these measurements,” say the professors. In other words, the testing violates the very first tenant of scientific experimentation which is that all experiments must be repeatable in order to be verified as accurate.

As the professors state in their letter:

“The document is heavily redacted with red stamps over the words and figures. In every case the electric current used which correlates one to one with X-ray dose has been specifically redacted. Thus there is no way to repeat any of these measurements. While the report purports to present the results of objective testing, in fact the JHU APL personnel, who are unnamed anywhere in the document either as experimenters or as authors, were not provided with a machine by Rapiscan. Instead they were invited to the manufacturing site to observe a mock-up of components (spare parts) that were said to be similar to those that are parts of the Rapiscan system. The tests were performed by the manufacturer using the manufacturer’s questionable test procedures.”

Unfortunately, this is not that unusual when national defence is called into question. However with my alternative health hat on I cannot begin to imagine the outcry if a herbal product company claimed that its products cured cancer, and it did all the testing itself, and all the names of the researchers were kept secret, and the methodology was a secret, and the whole document was 50% redacted to protect “proprietary information.”

So is it safe? Well, the dose rates of X-rays being emitted by the Rapidscan machines are actually quite high — comparable to that of CT scans, say the professors. Yes, the dose duration is significantly lower than a CT scan, but the dose intensity is much higher than what you might think. And as anyone who knows a bit about physics and biology will tell you, the real danger from radiation is a high-intensity, short-duration exposure. That’s exactly what the TSA’s backscatter machines produce. Further, the radiation detection device used by Rapidscan to measure the output of the machines — an ion chamber — is incapable of accurately measuring the high-intensity burst of radiation produced by the TSA’s naked body scanners, say the professors.

At the same time, the radiation field measurement device used by the TSA — a Fluke 451 instrument — is incapable of measuring the high dose rates emitted by backscatter machines. The measurement devices, in effect, “max out” and cannot measure the full intensity of the exposure. Thus, the TSA’s claims of “low radiation” are actually fraudulent.
The amount of electrical current applied to the X-ray tubes has been redacted by the TSA (working with John Hopkins). This makes it impossible for third-party scientists to accurately calculate the actual radiation exposure, and it hints at yet more evidence of a total TSA cover-up.

The TSA adamantly refuses to allow independent testing of the radiation levels being emitted by the machines and this is on the basis that “terrorists might be able to circumvent the technology” if anyone is allowed to actually test the machine. For once, I cannot even find a comment to make.

So again, is it safe? Well the actual radiation emitted by the machines is far higher than what the TSA claims according to John Sedat, a professor emeritus in biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF and the primary author of the letter.

He says, “..the best guess of the dose is much, much higher than certainly what the public thinks.” Peter Rez, the physics professor from Arizona State, says that the high-quality images described by the TSA could not be produced with the low levels of radiation being claimed by the TSA. The images, in other words, don’t match up with the TSA’s story. Rez estimates the actual radiation exposure is 45 times higher than what we’ve previously been told.

The TSA refuses to allow independent testing of its machines because it knows what informed readers already know: That if the machines were honestly and accurately tested, they would show far higher levels of radiation exposure than indicated and it would show that the TSA’s body scanners significantly increase the risk of cancer to a population that is already over-irradiated with medical imaging tests such as CT scans and chest X-rays.

There is already a very strong public backlash against these devices in the US and it has reached the point where the state of Texas is about to pass a law that would criminalize TSA agents who attempt to operate these naked x-rays. The TSA has put out a preemptive statement on its blog that claims none of this matters as “States cannot regulate the federal government.” It will certainly be interesting to see what happens and Texas would seem to be the ideal state to challenge this.

If you have any choice in the matter avoid the scanners altogether or go by sea.