November 29, 2010

Good News! TSA Scanners Damage DNA, Increase Cancer Risk to Everyone, But Will Kill Small Children and TSA Agents First

Via rdbrewer at Ace of Spades, the sort of story to warm your heart and corrupt your chromosomes:

These questions have not been answered to any satisfaction and the UCSF scientists, all esteemed in their fields and members of the National Academy of Sciences have been dismissed based on a couple of reports seemingly hastily put together by mid-level government technicians or engineers. The documents that I have reviewed thus far either have NO AUTHOR CREDITS or are NOT authored by anyone with either a Ph.D. or a M.D., raising serious concerns of the extent of the expertise of the individuals and organizations evaluating these machines with respect to biological safety. Yet, the FDA and TSA continue to dismiss some of the most talented scientists in the country...

With respect to errors in the safety reports and/or misleading information about them, the statement that one scan is equivalent to 2-3 minutes of your flight is VERY misleading. Most cosmic radiation is composed of high energy particles that passes right through our body and the plane itself without being absorbed. The spectrum that is dangerous is known as ionizing radiation and most of that is absorbed by the hull of the airplane. So relating non-absorbing cosmic radiation to tissue absorbing man-made radiation is simply misleading and wrong. Of course these are related and there is over-lap, but we have to compare apples to apples.

Furthermore, when making this comparison, the TSA and FDA are calculating that the dose is absorbed throughout the body. According the simulations performed by NIST, the relative absorption of the radiation is ~20-35-fold higher in the skin, breast, testes and thymus than the brain, or 7-12-fold higher than bone marrow. So a total body dose is misleading, because there is differential absorption in some tissues. Of particular concern is radiation exposure to the testes, which could result in infertility or birth defects, and breasts for women who might carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Even more alarming is that because the radiation energy is the same for all adults, children or infants, the relative absorbed dose is twice as high for small children and infants because they have a smaller body mass (both total and tissue specific) to distribute the dose. Alarmingly, the radiation dose to an infant's testes and skeleton is 60-fold higher than the absorbed dose to an adult brain!

Janet Napolitano's new toys (paid for with stimulus dollars, after lobbyists and politicians from both parties came to "agreements") seem to be quite dangerous at worst, and far from competently tested at best. I'd joked on Twitter about wearing a kilt if forced to fly and opting out, but I was merely making half-assed snark in a toothless protest of the tyrannical intrusion into personal liberties that the TSA represents for virtually no gain in safety from real airborne threats.

I'm now of the mind that until far more information is known about the effects of TSA scanners, that the only logical option for air travelers is to opt-out of these devices. This is even more vital for passengers with children and for those individuals that have a history of cancer in their families.

The scanners are no picnic for the TSA, either; they will absorb the amount of radiation that a human can "safely" absorb in a year in just 20 working days.

The TSA's scanners are a political safety device, not an air safety device. They do not address the most realistic threats to air travel, which are bombs or chemical incendiaries smuggled into cargo or luggage, or the threat of individual bombers hiding explosives in their body cavities. The purpose of the scanners is to make money for lobbyists and the companies they represent and to provide politicians and bureaucrats the political illusion that they are "doing something" to protect air travelers from terrorism. They persist in keeping up this illusion to avoid dealing with the abject fact that profiling, and profiling alone, is the most effective measure to prevent terrorist attacks on airliners.

The Obama Administration, Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security and the TSA are bending over backwards to treat all Americans like potential terrorists in order to avoid the uncomfortable truth that Muslim air travelers are by far the greatest, if not only threat to air security. They are more afraid of the ACLU and CAIR than al Qaeda, Hezbolla, or Hamas... and far more afraid to admit that political correctness is a not just a failure, but a weakness that devours resources in a time of scarcity.

Opt out now. Deal with the TSA's molesters, and pity the fact that their equipment is killing them for simply showing up. Fly no more than you have to.

Finally, throw the bums out in 2012 in favor of candidates from either party that are will to address the real threats we face from Muslim terrorism, and investigate the backroom deals that put these death machines in operation in the first place.

We will not surrender our liberties or our health to political correctness run amok.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 29, 2010 11:20 AM

I agree with everything but the pity. When you go to work knowing that your job is to violate the rights of your fellow citizens all day, then I'm OK with a little rough justice ending you up in the oncology ward.

Posted by: Phelps at November 29, 2010 01:07 PM

A young woman should most definitely refuse to go through the scanners. If you are pregnant, then you face a very real possibilty of damage to the fetus. In fact, the chance to injury to an unborn would far exceed the risk of a terrorist incident on even a plane that does not have any security. Opt out. Better yet, take names, they prosecuted the Nazi camp guards and they can do the same for these fools.

Posted by: David at November 29, 2010 01:15 PM

David, our Government learned from Nuremburg. They have legal protections for Government Agents who violate the rights of citizens under color of law. The term is "Sovereign Immunity", I believe. It is the reason Lon Horiuchi, the murderer of Vicki Weaver, is a free man.

Posted by: Jeremy at November 29, 2010 01:29 PM

All true - about the X-ray scanners. The machines reportedly operate in the 50KV + range and are suitable for full penetration X-rays. The sort you get with a chest X-ray. Operators should wear the full lead radiation suit, and be limited to a very few hours of exposure a month.

But some of the T&A's scanners are "millimeter wave" scanners, operating somewhere in the 300 to 500 teraHertz range. They are not inherently dangerous - even for reasonably long term exposure, but even at that, I do not want some public employee strip searching me. Whether it a real search, or only a simulated search.

Since the T&A's motto should be "billions and billions of searches done and not a terrorist found," the best solution is to defund Homeland Security, and get rid of the security theater.


Posted by: Stranger at November 29, 2010 05:24 PM

They do not address the most realistic threats ...

Agree. The most realistic threats are the Airline ground crew employees and TSA employees. They do not get the daily search when they come on duty and can wander freely among the airplanes and other "secured areas" of the airport. The insider threat is always the most likely.

This is not just eyewash. It is graft, corruption, and payoffs to the owners of the companies that make those machines in exchange for their generous campaign donations and support for other worthy causes.

I long for the days when this was JUST incompetence.

Posted by: Professor Hale at November 29, 2010 06:42 PM

There are a TON of issues, this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. They truly do not know how much radiation these are putting out, and 'rumor' has it, they can turn it up if they are not getting a 'good' picture. I've opted out every time so far! I'd rather have some bozo hitting my balls than having them fricasseed due to the amount of flying I do.

Posted by: Old NFO at November 29, 2010 08:57 PM

CY ... I agree with everything you say about this TSA debacle. The anecdotal stories on the Internet which are now abounding are quite horrifying. One scientist who went through the naked body scanning machines said that there is no way that the screeners could guarantee the accuracy of the supposed measurements of radiation, depending on variations in the settings of the individual machines. Additionally, if one opts for the pat downs, the screeners, who are not trained medical personnel, often do not change their gloves between pat downs of different passengers, and the next passenger can be exposed to the illnesses and possible infections of the previous passenger if the screener fails to change his/her gloves. So the granny from Iowa, who probably has an impaired immune system, can be exposed to everything from crabs to AIDS to intestinal infections. Talk about Typhoid Marys!

Marianne Matthews

Posted by: Marianne Matthews at November 30, 2010 12:26 AM

Please remember that "Law Enforcement" is readily available at EVERY TSA checkpoint. Each of those officers has sworn an oath to "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution..." yet will not bother to defend the citizens against this violation of their 4th Amendment rights. In addition, sexual assault is a crime in EVERY jurisdiction where this is being done, yet NOT ONE of those fine officers will bother to arrest the perpetrators. Because, after all, they are fellow "Only Ones." The stench is overwhelming.

Posted by: Mark Matis at November 30, 2010 08:57 PM

Sounds like the same BS the good people of St George, Utah were told by the government 'experts' during the early days of atomic weapons testing in Nevada. Nothing to worry about!!

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