Posts Tagged ‘TSA’
Body Scanners

I’m shocked, shocked the media are still reporting safety concerns around the TSA use of bodyscanners:

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners

Experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration raised questions about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle in radiation safety — that humans shouldn’t be X-rayed unless there is a medical benefit

Australia is trialling body scanners.  The Australian media seems blissfully unconcerned about any safety issues. The core of our 2010 post stands:

TSA Scanner safety – Fail

TSA has no regular testing system for its pornoscanners: Many experts are skeptical that the TSA’s new backscatter pornoscanner machines are safe, but even the experts who endorse them are careful to bracket their reassurances with certain caveats: the safety of the machines depends heavily on their being properly maintained, regularly tested, and expertly operated. Whether or not you’re comfortable with the intended radiation emissions from the scanners, no one in their right mind would argue that a broken machine that lovingly lingers over your reproductive organs and infuses them with 10,000 or 100,000 times the normal dosage is desirable….

The TSA claims that entities like the FDA, the US Army and Johns Hopkins all regularly inspect their machines, none of these groups agrees, and they all disavow any role in regularly maintaining and testing the TSA’s equipment (the Army has tested machines in three airports, but has not conducted any further testing). And Johns Hopkins denies that it has certified the machines as safe for operation in the first place — let alone taking on any ongoing testing and certification program.

Read the whole thing.

Of course the Australian government would never do anything to hurt someone. Government “incompetence“, what’s that? Poor maintenance, not here.

 
TSA Scanner safety – Fail

We have posted before on the TSA Pornoscanner safety. Now there is further alarming evidence:

TSA has no regular testing system for its pornoscanners: Many experts are skeptical that the TSA’s new backscatter pornoscanner machines are safe, but even the experts who endorse them are careful to bracket their reassurances with certain caveats: the safety of the machines depends heavily on their being properly maintained, regularly tested, and expertly operated. Whether or not you’re comfortable with the intended radiation emissions from the scanners, no one in their right mind would argue that a broken machine that lovingly lingers over your reproductive organs and infuses them with 10,000 or 100,000 times the normal dosage is desirable….

the TSA claims that entities like the FDA, the US Army and Johns Hopkins all regularly inspect their machines, none of these groups agrees, and they all disavow any role in regularly maintaining and testing the TSA’s equipment (the Army has tested machines in three airports, but has not conducted any further testing). And Johns Hopkins denies that it has certified the machines as safe for operation in the first place — let alone taking on any ongoing testing and certification program.

Naturally the TSA can claim there is no evidence of machines malfunctioning. Just as Admiral Nelson could put the telescope to his blind eye and claim he could see no signal.

The Pornoscanners are already in place in Canada. They are due to be installed in Australia during 2011. Agencies in both countries will have the same incentives to minimize harm, in the form of cancer, to the general public. None. The cancer will not be definitively traceable to the machines. The relevant personal will have moved on by the time it manifests itself.

Installing the scanners is as stupid as mandating mercury filled light bulbs. An initiative the world has Australian Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull to thank for. He is already in a new job, so when the pollution turns up it will be someone else’s problem. In the mean time we all pay more for our light bulbs. You know what they say about government:

If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.

 
Pornoscanners ineffective

Australia is installing the pornoscanners next year. Canada has the pornoscanners. The US is using the pornoscanners. But how effective are they?

According to the Journal of Transportation Studies: An evaluation of airport x-ray backscatter units based on image characteristics. Hat tip: Boing Boing

It is very likely that a large (15-20 cm in diameter), irregularly-shaped, cm-thick pancake with beveled edges, taped to the abdomen, would be invisible to this technology, ironically, because of its large volume, since it is easily confused with normal anatomy. Thus, a third of a kilo of PETN, easily picked up in a competent pat down, would be missed by backscatter “high technology”. Forty grams of PETN, a purportedly dangerous amount, would fit in a 1.25 mm-thick pancake of the dimensions simulated here and be virtually invisible.

No good for explosive. But at least it will stop those boxcutters:

An object such as a wire or a box- cutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible. While there are technical means to mildly increase the conspicuity of a thick object in air, they are ineffective for thin objects such as blades when they are aligned close to the beam direction.

Oh well, another example of our taxes being put to good use. We have posted before on the health effects of these ineffective machines. We have also posted on the infringements of our liberty.