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TSA To Retest Full Body Scanners For Radiation

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-ok-guys-they're-just-bad-at-math dept.

Privacy 199

cultiv8 writes with this excerpt from USA Today: "The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it would retest every full-body X-ray scanner that emits ionizing radiation — 247 machines at 38 airports — after maintenance records on some of the devices showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected. The TSA says that the records reflect math mistakes and that all the machines are safe. Indeed, even the highest readings listed on some of the records — the numbers that the TSA says were mistakes — appear to be many times less than what the agency says a person absorbs through one day of natural background radiation. Even so, the TSA has ordered the new tests out of 'an abundance of caution to reassure the public,' spokesman Nicholas Kimball says. The tests will be finished by the end of the month, and the results will be released 'as they are completed,' the agency said on its website."

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Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (5, Insightful)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466188)

Shouldn't they be testing the radiation output from these machines at regular intervals to make sure they're safe?

(as opposed to just checking them when the public needs "reassuring")

In the past, the TSA has failed to properly monitor and ensure the safety of X-ray devices used on luggage. A 2008 report by the worker safety arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the TSA and its maintenance contractors had failed to detect when baggage X-ray machines emitted radiation beyond what regulations allowed. They also failed to take action when some machines had missing or disabled safety features, the report shows.

Oh, wait, that's right. For the most part, they're incompetent, or just don't care.

The least they could do while subjecting people to discomfort and harm is ensure that they're keeping damage to a minimum. Assholes.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466236)

As of yet, zero evidence has been provided that led any reasonable person to the conclusion that the X-ray scanners are even a necessity. It was nothing more than a company that paid the correct lobbyist to convince the right administrator.

God damn republicans.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (3, Funny)

malakai (136531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466292)

Think you are on the wrong site, The Daily KOS is over here [dailykos.com] .

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466294)

Napolitano's a dem. Not that the GOP didn't start this, but guess who's keeping the tradition going? Too bad George Washington and the rest of the founders are all dead; they'd have all these bastards hung for treason.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (5, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466306)

God damn republicans.

http://irregulartimes.com/index.php/archives/2011/02/08/house-democrats-who-voted-for-patriot-act-reauthorization-feb-8-2011/ [irregulartimes.com]

This is not about partisanship, its about freedom. Do you despise the TSA, the PATRIOT act, the erosion of our Constitution, and our loss of Liberty or do you just want something else to wave in the face of the party that you happen to not be in?

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466314)

And Obama and his democrat congress were too gutless to get rid of them...so what the he k are they good for exactly?

God damn all our fascist politicians.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466426)

God damn republicans.

Because if we had a Democratic President, he'd put a stop to this damn quick.

Oh wait...

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466538)

Mod patent insightful please. Puppet is as puppet does.

Captchas scare me: wealth

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (2)

eyegone (644831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466590)

God damn cowardly Americans!

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467038)

Because if we had a Democratic President...

We haven't had one of those since at least the Carter administration. What we have now is not a Democrat, but rather a right winger who used the name of the Democratic Party to get elected. Obama is not all that far to the left of Ronald Reagan, the Republicans' deity. Show me an actual liberal in the White House, and I'll concede your point.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467182)

The best part is the Right wing republicans have moved so far to the right that they consider obama the most massively left wing person since FDR.

I hate sliding scales. they are always wrong.

He's got the tiger by the tail, next Prez too (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467206)

Homeland Security is a massive operation that is out of control and puts a vast amount of money into a vast number of pockets - which means more influence than any government body apart from the entire combined defence forces. Any attempt to assert decent control would result in accusations all the way up to treason and result at minimum in a hell of a lot of people losing jobs that they never should have been doing in the first place. That means whoever attempts to tackle it gets to lose their party enough votes that they can forget about getting another President in for a decade or more.
Now if only there had been a Central Intelligence Agency with a brief of coordinating all intelligence there would never have been a need for Homeland Security in the first place. There was? OK, if only there was an agency like that that was run by somebody with a clue that could actually take the job seriously and not another horse judge buddy.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (3, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466640)

Wait wait wait, how the hell are you blaming this on republicans? The TSA chief (John Pistole) was nominated by a D president (Obama). The DHS secretary (Janet Nepolitano) is a democrat, also nominated by obama. The current head of the executive is a Democrat. And all of these machines came in under THEIR watch with THEIR approval.

Where do the republicans come into this again?

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (1)

Bahamut_Omega (811064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466642)

Shall we be employing the guillotine sir?

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (3, Informative)

malakai (136531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466320)

Did you not read the blurb? Let alone the article?

after maintenance records on some of the devices showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected

These machines are on a maintenance plan. A few anomalies early on prompted the TSA to force retest all machines before their scheduled maintenance window.

They did exactly what you whined about them not doing.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (2)

headhot (137860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466394)

Well considering the machines have never been looked at by the FDA or any other agency, or any other independent of side review, how do you know they are looking for the right thing in their scheduled maintenance?

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466452)

Because the FDA is the first agency on the scene to deal with suspected radiation hazards

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466584)

Because the FDA is the first agency on the scene to deal with suspected radiation hazards

Just like the TFA said, the FDA is not invloved, due to the machines belonging to a federal agency

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (2)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467226)

Not to be pedantic, TFA said the FDA isn't involved because they're not medical devices. They are exempt from state inspections because they belong to a federal agency.

Point still stands that these machines operate in a bit of a safety loophole and there's less oversight on them, which is even more worrisome due to the heavy lobbying and conflicts of interest that got these machines put in place to start with.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467014)

a guy shows up, 'does stuff' and leaves.

what, you want more for your theater?

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (5, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466790)

A medical facility that allowed an x-ray machine to expose patients to an order of magnitude more radiation than it was supposed to for any length of time would have hell to pay.

TFA does not say that TSA detected problems and so is re-testing everything. It says that AFTER they were forced by lawmakers and the press to release records AND it was determined that at least 33% of those inspections were rendered worthless by seriously sloppy procedure AND lawmakers rumbled about taking action, THEN and only THEN the TSA reluctantly offered to retest everything.

That's far from your characterization.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466392)

The real issue is not the amount of radiation but where it is FOCUSED on the body - i.e. on the skin.

If we continue using these things, there will be a rash of skin cancer outbreaks among weekly travelers. Also sterilization of men's sperm too.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (0)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466738)

The real issue is not the amount of radiation but where it is FOCUSED on the body - i.e. on the skin.

If we continue using these things, there will be a rash of skin cancer outbreaks among weekly travelers.

Oh look the troll-fucker is back with some shit-spewing from his retarded mouth!!! Go shove a dildo up your arse you gay-focher

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466638)

For the most part, they're incompetent, or just don't care.

False dichotomy. They're both.

Dear TSA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466778)

Most of you are HS dropouts, and fondling peoples' junk is the only amount of authority you will ever have. If it wasn't for the government coming to your rescue, you'd be cleaning up my kid's shit off of the floor at Denny's. Since you're already down there fondling our junk, the least you could do is put that shit in your mouth once in a while!

More a danger to the TSA than passengers (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467134)

The radiation danger to individuals may be significant, but the real danger is to the TSA agents that work in close proximity to the devices 40 hours a week or more. It would be worth the money to put one of these in the office of director of homeland security. Passengers don't have to even go through these devices if they don't want too. Plus they are easy to avoid. Most airports have multiple lanes and it is easy to just go to the line without the scanner. In my own airport CLT I can avoid it by going to the C checkpoint that doesn't even have the devices.

Re:Maybe I'm mistaken, but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35467234)

I'm sure the upcoming unionization of TSA workers will fix this problem.

so, they've admitted to incompetence... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466202)

..."math mistakes"... but we should be reassured that it's only mathematical incompetence, and not, you know, the sort of incompetence that leads to incorrectly calculating radiation risk... you know, mathematical incompetence.

Re:so, they've admitted to incompetence... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466524)

as we all know, the math mistakes always occur during testing and verification.

the *designs* - no - they are never subject to math errors.

its how we test them that we are 'not sure about'. yeah. that's it.

Re:so, they've admitted to incompetence... (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466614)

And, of course, the errors only ever overestimate the actual dose. There's no chance whatsoever of a machine being checked off as 'within normal limits' when it's producing plane-loads of glow in the dark passengers.

In the immortal words of Hudson from Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466994)

"I feel safer already."

Puh-Leeeeeeeeze.... (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466216)

While all you geeky LOSERS patter on about being exposed to LESS radiation than your fucking CELL PHONE (and really, do ANY of you masturbation freaks actually ever get out of your mom's basement?), the WINNERS are dealing with actual real issues involving warlocks and tiger blood. I get zapped at the airport maybe 8 times a year. The amount of alcohol and cocaine I take will kill me first, and I plan on NEVER DIEING.

Re:Puh-Leeeeeeeeze.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466378)

I'd rather masturbate than deal with the hassles associated with the girls in my area. whytherearenogirls.blogspot.com. Seriously. Not that there are any girls on here, but: I'd rather be left masturbating the have to put up with you.

Re:Puh-Leeeeeeeeze.... (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466408)

I'd rather be left masturbating the have to put up with you.

Posting as an AC, you clearly have no balls anyway.

Re:Puh-Leeeeeeeeze.... (1)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466514)

Frosty Piss, that was fekking awesome.

Re:Puh-Leeeeeeeeze.... (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466570)

I do not have any mod points, but if I had them, I would give them all to you. This is epic.

http://operatorchan.org/n/src/n121391_citizen%20kane%20clap.gif [operatorchan.org]

--
BMO

Re:Puh-Leeeeeeeeze.... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466658)

Don't believe him, guys. It's Saturday. He's posting on Slashdot.

Winner, indeed.

TSA worker forgot to carry the one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466226)

A TSA spokesperson stated that future radiation studies would be carried out by trained professionals.

Re:TSA worker forgot to carry the one (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466502)

A TSA spokesperson stated that future radiation studies would be carried out by trained professionals.

And did that spokesperson say what the area(s) of expertise of these professionals would be?

Re:TSA worker forgot to carry the one (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467052)

Top. Men.

Re:TSA worker forgot to carry the one (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467086)

And did that spokesperson say what the area(s) of expertise of these professionals would be?

Please let it be professional supermodels. I'm flying next week!

Just kidding. I'm not flying next week. But please let it be professional supermodels anyway.

Re:TSA worker forgot to carry the one (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466510)

Like the trained professionals in the TSA that don't notice guns, knives, and boxcutters?

The only free country in the world (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466250)

Where you have to get your balls groped to be able to travel. You would be hard pressed to make a public servant grope your balls even in 3rd world countries. But, its free in america.

That, or a good dose of healthy radiation ..

"Hello sir ! What would you like to have today ? Ball-grope, or radiation ?"

now come to think of it, even that 'hello sir' part may be extra in that sentence.

Re:The only free country in the world (4, Funny)

malakai (136531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466326)

Take the radiation on the flight out, then the ball grope on the return flight to make sure you don't have testicular cancer.

win-win

Bullshit. (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466386)

Where you have to get your balls groped to be able to travel.

I travel quite a bit. I've been patted down a few times. But never have I had my balls groped.

Please stop spouting bullshit that you clearly have no experience with.

Re:Bullshit. (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466554)

The training that the TSA agents took does require this "groping." (I have talked to off-duty TSA agents about this.) However, I also travel a lot, I always refuse the scanning, and I have yet to be groped. I think that they are just not (by and large) following their training in this matter.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466676)

Or your off-duty TSA agent wasnt telling you the truth, or his trainers werent following the official procedure, or you misheard...

The possibilities are endless...

Re:Bullshit. (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466972)

No, the possibilities are not endless. They had a training film, produced by a contractor. (I don't remember which one, and I can't find a link, but it was one of the usual suspects.) That is the way the Government generally does training. I don't know how explicit the film was, but the discussion was very explicit (I remember the phrase "lift and separate," among others).

I was also told that there was general unhappiness about this new procedure, under the assumption that agents would catch even more hell from the public.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35467106)

No, the possibilities are not endless. They had a training film, produced by a contractor. (I don't remember which one, and I can't find a link, but it was one of the usual suspects.) That is the way the Government generally does training. I don't know how explicit the film was, but the discussion was very explicit (I remember the phrase "lift and separate," among others).

I was also told that there was general unhappiness about this new procedure, under the assumption that agents would catch even more hell from the public.

Heck.. there was even an internal memo posted from one of the higher ups that basically said the entire purpose of the pat down
was to make the radiation treatment more appealing ..

Re:Bullshit. (2)

dead_user (1989356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466724)

Just because that female TSA agent thinks you're fugly doesn't mean she didn't grope MY balls!

Re:Bullshit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35467078)

Do I detect a hint of disappointment?

On a related note, I used to have this squishy ball shaped stress ball hanging on my keychain. One day I went to a club where they patted you down for weapons before you could go inside. I noticed the bouncer's face when he got to that part and I could tell he was trying to figure out if he wanted to ask me what it was, or if he should buy me dinner first. He looked quite relieved when I told him he wasn't actually groping me.

Re:The only free country in the world (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466414)

"Where you have to get your balls groped to be able to travel."

Try taking a train in Asia.

Re:The only free country in the world (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466454)

some perv groping you amidst the crowd doesnt classify as an official grope, brought to you by your tax.

make it like beavis and butthead do america full (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466438)

make it like beavis and butthead do america full body cavity search.

Re:The only free country in the world (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466696)

But, its free in america.

Pfft. I wish. Have you seen the price of plane tickets these days?

Can't do math == Must be safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466270)

Yes, ok. I completely trust people who can't do arithmetic to dose me with ionizing radiation. That sounds smart.

Re:Can't do math == Must be safe (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466364)

Don't be an ass. Minor calculation mistakes are made - and caught, just as the TSA did - every day. That's why such things are audited.

You can whoop this up with your lame emo-rant all you want if it makes you feel good, but the truth is *this* nonsense is not even near the middle of issues about TSA.

Beyond even the issues of "privacy" from prudes who don't want anyone to see their "privates", the real issue is BILLIONS spent on Security Theater, when simple profiling would be quite sufficient.

But of course "profiling" is a dirty word. Seems to work for the Europeans. Any of you yahoos travel through Frankfort or Rome recently?

Re:Can't do math == Must be safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466434)

Don't be an ass.

You should take your own advice. Seriously.

Re:Can't do math == Must be safe (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466466)

Yet another Autonomous COWARD.

Re:Can't do math == Must be safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466488)

You've been shitting over this entire thread being one, why can't other people? Do you work for TSA?

Re:Can't do math == Must be safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466660)

But of course "profiling" is a dirty word. Seems to work for the Europeans. Any of you yahoos travel through Frankfort or Rome recently?

I agree. Anybody who refuses to renounce religion should be put in the anal probing line. Fucking theists.

Re:Can't do math == Must be safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35467122)

Hey, turd. Europe has same scanners as the US. They are planning on ubiquitous x-raying too. Australia wants dual-power X-ray scanners where "suspects" can be given a full body "regular" x-ray to verify they don't have anything in their cavities.

I don't give a fuck what they say. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466338)

the numbers that the TSA says were mistakes — appear to be many times less than what the agency says a person absorbs through one day of natural background radiation.

Citing the TSA? Like they're a reliable source? If the TSA said the sky was blue, I'd double check it.

Oy vey!

TSA Mistake (2)

Goboxer (1821502) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466342)

So glad that the people who use these machines on people and make mathematical mistakes in their logs are the ones that are going to be testing it for safety. That should settle the matter.

Re:TSA Mistake (2)

hardie (716254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466490)

Hey, it works for the banks.

AVG (2)

teeloo (766817) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466362)

This sets a new bar for incompetence. Its almost comical that they are admitting that someone didn't divide by 10 to get an average, but instead *added* the numbers together. This smells like its too dumb to be true, and they are hiding something.

Re:AVG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466562)

They should also be reporting the maximum of the samples not the average!

If the machine fails to work 9 times out of 10 and the 10th time it uses 10 times the radiation, the average would be misleading.

The TSA's math is real wrong. (5, Interesting)

headhot (137860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466374)

Their example of "appear to be many times less than what the agency says a person absorbs through one day of natural background radiation." is a bad one.

The force of a bullet hitting a person is the same as that of the stock hitting the shoulder of the shooter. I'd rather be on the shooter's end.

Just because the amount of radiation is the same (or less) it doesn't mean its the same type. The scanners concentrate that radiation at one frequency, not over a broad spectrum. That frequency is absorbed not by the whole body, but by the first few millimeters of flest. That means that bit of flesh is getting thousands of times higher levels of exposure then that of the whole body mass exposure of back ground radiation.

Re:The TSA's math is real wrong. (1)

JaWiB (963739) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466832)

The two major flaws in your argument are that radiation doses (in rem or Sv) are calculated using a "quality" factor that takes into account the type of radiation and the tissue that absorbs it, and the fact that the units are in energy/mass so the calculations _should_ already take into account the frequency dependence of photon energy. But I do agree that people should be more clear when they say "radiation"--I get the feeling that people hear x-rays and they think of nuclear decay involving protons and neutrons, when x-rays are just high energy light. And what does "background radiation" really mean? Everything around me is radiating but it's mostly infrared light and I'm not too worried about my exposure to infrared, even cumulatively over a long time period.

Re:The TSA's math is real wrong. (-1, Troll)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466938)

Just because the amount of radiation is the same (or less) it doesn't mean its the same type. The scanners concentrate that radiation at one frequency, not over a broad spectrum. That frequency is absorbed not by the whole body, but by the first few millimeters of flest. That means that bit of flesh is getting thousands of times higher levels of exposure then that of the whole body mass exposure of back ground radiation.

This came up in a discussion I was having with someone about this technology. The backscatter scanners use alpha particles. Alpha particles only penetrate about 0.045 mm into skin [harvard.edu] . That's not enough to penetrate past the epidermis, which is about 0.05-0.1 mm at its thinnest (the eyelids). In most cases it's not even going to penetrate the outermost cells of the epidermis (most of which are already dead).

My question was, don't the cells in the epidermis die and slough off in a few days to weeks, to be replaced by new cells from underneath? If so, the "bit of flesh" that is getting "thousands of times higher levels of exposure" is destined to die soon anyways, and being zapped by alpha particles isn't going to change that appreciably.

In contrast, UV light (the kind you get just walking out in sunlight) can penetrate several mm into the skin. Damage from UV can be in cells which will continue living inside you for months or years. I am against these scanners for privacy reasons. But unless I'm misunderstanding something about the physics and biology of what's going on, it seems like a stroll out in the sun would be more dangerous than these scanners.

Re:The TSA's math is real wrong. (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467176)

The force of a bullet hitting a person is the same as that of the stock hitting the shoulder of the shooter. I'd rather be on the shooter's end.

While I appreciate the analogy, I'm pretty sure that's wrong. Force is time-dependent; the bullet keeps getting energy imparted the entire time it's going down the shaft, during which time it accelerates up to speed. It has enormous impact because it's trying to shed all that energy into the material it's hitting all at once, and most materials (like flesh) don't have enough strength to hold up against firepower of that magnitude. However, the butt of the rifle (assuming it's kept against the shoulder) doesn't have the same room to accelerate, and the energy doesn't build up. This, plus accuracy, are why you hold the rifle like that in the first place.

And no, the energy isn't the same as the outgoing energy of the bullet either; it's dissipated in a lot of ways very quickly, which is why gun barrels are designed the way they are--in order to capture as much energy as possible before it's all lost to entropy.

But maybe I'm mistaken about at least part of it. Seems like it'd be interesting for the mythbusters to sink their teeth into.

Carry a radiation detector (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466422)

There's a keychain-sized radiation detector [nukalert.com] available for $160. It's a sealed unit, always on, and has a 10-year battery life. It sounds a burst of "chirps" if it detects radiation, with the number of chirps indicating logarithmically the level of hazard. One chirp, the level of radiation is safe for 40 days of exposure. 10 chirps, lethal within hours. Putting one in front of a dental X-ray machine produces about five chirps.

Carry one of those through a body scanner and see what happens.

Re:Carry a radiation detector (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466470)

Carry one of those through a body scanner and see what happens.

You get pulled aside, put in a dark room, interrogated for hours and arrested for carrying "terrorist" electronics?

Re:Carry a radiation detector (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466556)

what will happen? they'll take it from you and throw it into the anti-freedom(tm) water/liquid/soap drums.

100% chance they can come up with an excuse to detain you or search you for pretty much any whim of theirs. your 'detection device' could be seen as trying to spy or interfere with them. in their sick anti-freedom(tm) minds, you would be the bad person, not them!

Re:Carry a radiation detector (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466976)

They're illegal in New York City. The reason given is to prevent public panic.

Next step Puppet Masters (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466460)

In The Puppet Masters people had to go around naked to prove they weren't carrying alien parasites. Now it's going to be so they can tell you aren't carrying bombs or weapons. Just how far are we willing to go for the sham of political correctness?

Re:Next step Puppet Masters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466988)

I'm not willing to go very far at all. Ban sand niggers from mass transit. No sweat off of my back!

Anger more dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466484)

I think the raised blood pressure from reading stuff like this is more damaging to my health than the radiation itself

Michael Chertoff's folly (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466528)

Indeed, even the highest readings listed on some of the records — the numbers that the TSA says were mistakes — appear to be many times less than what the agency says a person absorbs through one day of natural background radiation.

That is irrelevant, and in my recommendation whoever came up with that formulation should be fired, or at least reassigned to duties far from any actual responsibilities.

I have been unable to find any actual numbers for dosage recorded in this case, so let's look at the National Council on Radiation Protection Commentary No. 16 - Screening of Humans for Security Purposes Using Ionizing Radiation Scanning Systems [ncrppublications.org] , which I believe governs this.

The Commentary states that general-use systems should adhere to an effective dose of 0.1 microsievert (Sv) (0.01 millirem) or less per scan, and can be used mostly without regard to the number of individuals scanned or the number of scans per individual in a year. An effective dose of 0.1 Sv (0.01 mrem) per scan would allow 2,500 scans of an individual annually [i.e., if each scan required 0.1 Sv (0.01 mrem)] without exceeding the administrative control of 0.25 mSv (25 mrem) to a member of the general public for a single source or set of sources under one control. Assuming 250 workdays per year, this would correspond to an average of 10 scans each day, a frequency that is unlikely to be encountered.

So, if the actual dose is 10 times that, or 1 micro Sv / scan, then the "administrative control" of 250 microSv / year would require only 250 scans, or one per workday, a frequency which would not be "unlikely to be encountered." In fact, both really frequent flyers and airline crew would be likely to match or exceed this. To be blunt about it, the TSA chose words intended to obscure the likelihood that their radiation guidelines are being violated, at least for some members of the public. This does not inspire confidence.

Remember, too, that this technology was pushed heavily by Michael Chertoff when he was in office, and now he is profiting from its deployment. That also does not inspire confidence.

I think that there should be an independent audit of the TSA's use of X-Ray backscatter and that until that is done members of the flying public should refuse to take those scans. It is better to get groped than to get cancer.

Placation (1)

SkOink (212592) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466544)

Does anybody really expect that the TSA would admit that their scanners are dangerous and then remove them? No way. Not after the hundreds of millions of dollars they've spent buying them. I guarantee their tests will show that everything is A-OK regardless of what the truth might actually be.

Re:Placation (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467064)

#define _OK 1
#define _NOT_OK 2

extern int get_status_of_test();

int safety_check(void)
{
    (void)get_status_of_test();
    return _OK;
}

(hope they don't 'wikileaks' my ass for disclosing their secret source code)

They should be testing against mice (1)

Error27 (100234) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466548)

According to wired the machines have never been tested against mice. That seems like an obvious test to do. Also it should be tested by somebody independent, because we're all sick of the blatant lies we've been told from Rapiscan vendors.

Re:They should be testing against mice (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466706)

According to wired the machines have never been tested against mice.

Are you fucking crazy [sadgeezer.com] ?

"...tests finished by the end of the month..." (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466560)

And to speed things up they've already started writing up the results.

My solution (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466574)

We need to git rid of all scanners, x-ray machine, etc. There will be random, "aggressive", pat downs by attractive male/female "escorts"... Your choice as to which you will be groped by. There will of course be a charge for this service, cough, I mean security procedure. And there will be a menu of other extras you may request at an additional cost. This will not only solve the security and radiation exposure issues, but the TSA will become self supporting agency and within a few years run a surplus I suspect.

Error of organization, not equipment. (4, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466580)

Given the rash of medical radiation devices that have been gorking people because they were working incorrectly, I do worry about this.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/health/06radiation.html?src=mv [nytimes.com]

How about we have an agency OTHER than the TSA provide data on how much radiation in being emitted. Not hard to do -- OSHA rep visits the airport, run the test on each machine, and out. TSA never has to do math again; the radiation output is not a security question anyway.

And you avoid situations like this one, where testing gets somehow... skipped.
Source: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/umdnj_didnt_test_medical_x-ray.html [nj.com]

An open challenge to John Pistole (3, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466592)

Mr. Pistole:

According to federal sources cited around the web, the amount of radiation is less than 1/1000 times [developerdig.com] the dosage from 3 minutes of air travel.

If these systems are as safe as you say, being scanned 100,000 times is about the amount of radiation one would get from a 4 hour flight.

It would go a long way towards convincing everyone if, as a publicity stunt, you allowed yourself to be scanned 100,000 times over a four hour period.

The equivalent dosage would be a little less than from a four hour flight, which is a risk that you regularly take as part of your official duties.

If you do this and emerge unharmed, I'm willing to concede the point. Until then, I claim that there is no evidence [okianwarrior.com] to warrant any claims as to the safety of airport scanners.

Rajstennaj Barrabas
Nashua, NH

Re:An open challenge to John Pistole (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466632)

Post in haste, regret at leisure.

Looks like I typoed the calculations. It's more like 5,000 scans instead of 100,000.

But my point stands. I'd like to see someone who is so certain of the safety show us how little the risk is by taking the challenge (with the correct number of scans).

Re:An open challenge to John Pistole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466822)

NH is making the TSA scans a sex offense so you shouldn't have to worry about it too much longer anyways. I don't get it, Americans by and large don't seem to want as much security but boy are we going to get it. Our level of security before the attack was fine, most attacks on American soil have been from small planes or large trucks, how does 1 attack orchestrated by a highly organized enemy that was well funded promote the need for such a radical change in policy? You can believe if someone wants to get on a plane they will find a way, wouldn't it be far cheaper to have air marshals fly on every long distance flight? If the pilot's door is locked then there's nowhere for the terrorist to run from the deadly arm of Tex with his Taser. For a backup he's got his Dirty Harry Special. We've already got them flying and no one seems to notice or care about them. It would mean less headaches and probably cost far less.

Re:An open challenge to John Pistole (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467104)

Because they were not highly organized nor well funded. They figured when 4 planes were going to take off and bought some plane tickets, and got though security with weapons sufficient to take down planes. It isn't like they invented invisibility and parachuted into the airports.

Said in my best Rhode Island Accent (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466608)

What a buncha retahds.

There is no excuse for this. None. Trying to downplay it with a lame excuse only makes it look like they're covering something up.

I'll bet the TSA is doing exactly that.

"It all depends on what your definition of "is" is"

--
BMO

Double? (1)

SavoWood (650474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466792)

So if I understand this correctly, the scanners don't expose you to more than you'd normally get in a day. However, it does it in 10 seconds or less.

To put this in perspective, if I shower for 10 minutes on average, and I find a machine that can blast the water at me in 1/1000th of a second would be good? I think I'd be missing skin among other things.

How about the fact that I've now doubled the normal radiation in just 10 seconds? If I have to go out to another terminal in an airport where the terminals aren't connected (like many of my connections through Logan), I now get triple? If I fly back in the same day, add at least two more hits.

Going through these things doesn't keep the normal radiation from happening, so you end up with twice as much. It seems this might be a less than good thing.

Re:Double? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467128)

Because radiation particles travel at the same speed whether there is one of them or a million.

Re:Double? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467144)

How about the fact that I've now doubled the normal radiation in just 10 seconds? If I have to go out to another terminal in an airport where the terminals aren't connected (like many of my connections through Logan), I now get triple? If I fly back in the same day, add at least two more hits.

Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say. We've gotten used to having all these small sources of radiation (at varying wavelengths) around us on a daily basis, so we tend to lump them all together and ignore the lot. It doesn't help that the favorite argument made, when it comes to exposing people to yet another source of radiation, is usually akin to "it's less than you get from an hour out in the sun" - but, as you point out, that completely sidesteps facing the fact that radiation exposure is cumulative.

Why is it (3, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466850)

If I get sick and need a scan, my government pleads poverty and leaves me on my own. If I try to fly somewhere, suddenly they're so overstuffed with money that they demand that I take a scan.

Best of both worlds, have certified radiologists operate the airport scanners and pat-downs. They can not only get you where you're going but give you a free scan and manual breast or testicular cancer screening.

Let's start a good joke :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35466856)

Dunno bout you , but id sure as hell like to totally make fun of those machines and the TSA boyos .
Is there a paint . or something that will show up on their xray / scan machines that we could write subtle messages with right on our skin to let them know how we truly feel ? Ex writing on one's butt " Scan This " :)

Re:Let's start a good joke :) (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467054)

Dunno bout you , but id sure as hell like to totally make fun of those machines and the TSA boyos .
Is there a paint . or something that will show up on their xray / scan machines that we could write subtle messages with right on our skin to let them know how we truly feel ? Ex writing on one's butt " Scan This " :)

We're supposed to believe that you'd be willing to paint "Up yours, TSA!" on your ass with lead paint, yet you post to Slashdot as an Anonymous Coward?

What about during the flight? (2)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466924)

One thing people rarely consider is the amount of cosmic rays you get with the high altitude during a flight. A visiting physics professor coming to our university wore a geiger counter watch during the flight. After he explained to nearby passengers why it was sounding alarms, he was detained when they landed. :( The talk he was coming for was cancelled because he was held for several hours at an airport for detecting cosmic rays in this age of paranoia.

Anyway, here's an article about the dosage you get during flight compared to the scanners:
http://www.tampabay.com/news/politifact-radiation-of-airport-scans-less-than-the-dose-in-flight/1135857 [tampabay.com]

Bow and crushed them (1)

Adam Appel (1991764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35467238)

I think it's an easy out for the TSA. It allows them to kill the program (while still out a crazy cost to us tax payin folk) under the pretext of a safety, we screwed up, guise. I gotta wonder if the TSA is officially the most inomptant wasteful agency ( and if the're not, good god) in this country.
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