Baggage X-rays and Body Scanners:
An Airport Health Hazard
Most, if not all states license the use of Radiological devices, such as X-Ray equipment to protect:
- the public,
- radiation workers,
- and the environment.
This is done by a state agency responsible for providing public health functions associated with administering a radiation control program. This includes:
- licensing of radioactive materials,
- registration of X-ray-producing machines,
- certification of medical and industrial X-ray and radioactive material users,
- inspection of facilities using radiation,
- investigation of radiation incidents, and
- surveillance of radioactive contamination in the environment.
In a traditional (normal) medical setting, these types of machines are only operated by certified techs.
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.
Furthermore, in a medical setting, the body part not being scanned is covered by lead to protect sensative tissue areas.
Even where such standards exist, mistakes happen:
X-Rays and Unshielded Infants
TSA uses radiological devices to x-ray baggage, and now, people as well in Body scanning devices. TSA management insists these devices are safe, but many other reputable authorities say otherwise:
U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners
Every day, millions of people pass close by or through these devices, which operate continuously without shielding either for passengers or workers.
Recently, there have been reports of cancer clusters among TSA airport workers:
Did Airport Scanners Give Boston TSA Agents Cancer?
TSA workers, who stand next to unshielded X-ray equipment all day, every day, do not wear protective clothing and are not permitted to wear dosimeters. Read more here.
Individual scanners are not licensed or independently and regularly tested on site by state authorities who have experience testing X-ray equipment.
TSA employees who operate these X-ray devices are not licensed or trained in accordance with national standards for limited x-ray machine operators.
The National Association of Airline Passengers believes that all baggage x-rays and body scanners should be operated in accordance with the highest standards of safety, and that they should be regulary inspected and independently tested on site by each state's department of Radiologic Health, (or equivalent). In addition, TSA employees who operate this equipment, and those who supervise its operation, should be licensed in accordance with state and national standards.
The National Association of Airline Passengers believes that regular, independent state inspection and licensing of all TSA baggage and passenger screening equipment and operators is essential to preserving the health and safety of passengers, TSA employees, and the general public.
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