TSA gathering info re: radiation measurement for its screeners

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Doober, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    One result of unionization?


    "Looking for vendors"? Doesn't the medical industry monitor ionizing radiation? Why does the TSA need to look for vendors? Unless, of course, its to find a vendor that will charge $250 for a $70 badge.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  2. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Nappy, Pissy, and their cronies need time to buy stock in the company before they offer the contract.
  3. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    But they'll continue to expose passengers to these devices without providing any legitimate safety test data.

    All we get is the "less than 2 minutes of flying" propaganda.
    KrazyKat and Lisa Simeone like this.
  4. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    I posted about this earlier today at TSA News. The post hasn't gone up yet, though. Editor looking for appropriate pic with Creative Commons license (he's very good at this -- I always fail miserably).
  5. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    Napppy and Pistole are starting to line up their 'retirement' bonuses.

    So there's no product currently on the market to satisfy the requirements?

    Nope, because TSA HQ needs a product that will 1) provide $$ for Nappy and Pistole and 2) 'prove' that the machines are safe.

    It's 2) that is the real sticking point - TSA has insisted that the machines pose no risk, have built-in fail-safes, couldn't possibly hurt anyone anyway even if they malfunctioned in the worst possible way. Dosimeters that are currently available might fail to back up that story.

    Wonder if independent outside testing of the final product will be allowed?
  6. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Okay, it just went up at TSA News.
    rockon likes this.
  7. FaustsAccountant

    FaustsAccountant Original Member

    They need to FIND a 'vendor' that will read the script they write and swear it's 'scientific truth.'

    Besides IF they ever are finally forced into admitting it dangerous, it'll only be dangerous for the TSA and probably not for passenger. (we're not people, we're "fare.")
    Doober, KrazyKat, barbell and 2 others like this.
  8. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    I wonder if the results from the screeners dosimeters will be public information? Depending on the type they buy they may be readable from a few feet but I suspect they'll find ones that hide the display.
  9. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    The dosimeters with which I'm familiar are not readily readable. Typically with this type of analysis the readings are recorded on a sort of litmus paper that is then processed by a third party. I doubt the results will be made public.
  10. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Aye, there's the rub.

    Of course, if everything's on the up-and-up, as TSA keeps claiming, what's there to hide? That's a question hundreds of us, of course, will be asking.
    KrazyKat and barbell like this.
  11. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    I thought some turned color as the radiation accumulated.
  12. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Perhaps. I'm only familiar with those that are used to measure scatter in a medical setting. The people operating the equipment wear a dosimeter the entire time they're in the clinic, even when they aren't operating the equipment to measure their total exposure since it's cumulative. These dosimeters are submitted to a lab monthly for analysis, which tracks that individual's exposure over their lifetime.
  13. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    I'm thinking of ones the used in nuclear power plants which may be different from those monitoring x-ray radiation.
  14. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Since these machines are using x-ray radiation, I imagine the most likely candidate would be those similar to those used in the medical fields.

    Though what TSA will do, and what lengths they will take to get dosimeters that lack the sensitivity to measure the actual sensitivity, is anyone's guess.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  15. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    The screener's union has been complaining about radiation for some time, but there's nothing about this particular bit of news on the website.
  16. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Chronically out of date, I see...
  17. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Isn't there an issue with the design of the dosimeter? Isn't the issue, as you've posted before, the fact that these are low speed particles designed to impact and stay at body surface level and harming skin and near-to-surface body parts that don't take radiation well to start with, compared with high speed particles that pass through and if they do hit anything, hit internal organs better able to repair the damage. So you could have an amount of radiation that won't show up on dosimeters, yet the damage they do is far greater than this measurement would indicate.

    I think the dosimeter issue may just be a red herring...
  18. Bungnoid

    Bungnoid Original Member

    Just a technical correction: x-rays are electromagnetic radiation, which moves at the speed of light. The backscatter scanners use relatively low-energy x-rays (longer wavelength, lower frequency) compared with the higher energies (shorter wavelength, higher frequency) used for transmission radiography in medical x-rays--or compared with the cosmic rays that air travelers are exposed to at higher altitudes. However, all of these are moving at the same speed: c -- the speed of light, approximately 3 x 10^8 m/s. That said, the rest of your argument stands: the lower energy photons of the backscatter x-ray interact with tissue differently--and in some ways more strongly--than do higher energy photons.
  19. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Bingo. And a far more elegant description than I can give. I understand it at a theoretical level. Bungoid indicates the beautiful mathematical one.

    As best as I understand, the backscatter machines use scatter radiation exclusively as a low-energy way to create surface images of the body. The problem is that this energy is reacting with the tissue on the surface, that which can be the most susceptible to injury, regardless of the source of insult (in this case ionizing radiation, which Bungoid points out can react quite strongly with human tissue). In particular, as nachtnebel points out, I have said, and stand by my previous statements that the skin and cornea of the eye are the most susceptible human tissue affected by TSA's backscatter whole body imaging devices.

    In regards to medical equipment, x-ray particles are shot out in a beam at the area of study at a higher energy. I don't know if this is the reason why it works this way, but this higher energy transmission allows these particles to "shoot by" more susceptible tissue (eyes, intestines, skin) and "bounce off" less susceptible tissue (more dense organs like the heart, some muscle, bone). There is a component of these particles that becomes lower energy over time (think seconds). We refer to these particles as "scatter" (sound familiar?). It's basic physics - an object in motion will remain in motion until stopped by an opposing force.

    So using x-ray imaging of the flavor in a medical setting, high-energy particles are "shot" at the subject area. Let's say we're doing a study of the low back/pelvis/hip and upper leg variety, as I did just this Thursday (well, my technician did it...). We aim the beam at this area, then collimate (or narrow the beam) down to that specific area, avoiding the upper low back, the mid back, the rest of the leg, and focus in on the body, limiting the excess particles that would shoot out around the sides of the body. Anything extra that doesn't penetrate the subject and head to the film, even some of the particles shot towards the body, will eventually "hit" something. Some of them do come into contact with atoms in the skin, and an atomic reaction "bounces" these particles off somewhere else as scatter radiation. Loose particles that didn't come into contact with the body will interact with the surroundings in front of the beam and "bounce". Each successive bounce will reduce the energy of the individual x-ray particles as they "scatter" around the room. It doesn't go on forever. These are small particles and they eventually just stop.

    My technicians wear dosimeters specifically to measure scatter since they are exclusively in the room with it, and are exposed to radiation at a much greater rate than the patients or any of the other staff. The dosimeters pick up scatter radiation with which the technician may come into contact. So far, every single study for each of my technicians has come back negative (knock wood). It helps that they stand behind a lead wall during the study, and the beam is focused in the opposite direction from them, and they wait a couple of seconds behind the lead wall before re-entering the room.

    Not so much with TSA.

    From what I can tell, the backscatter machines shoot a low-energy beam over an area, what?, 4 feet wide by 6 feet high x2 for each machine. Compare that to a medical x-ray that, at most, covers an area, generally, 11" x 14". Insane. Add to that most human bodies are a foot or 2 wide? That's an additional 2 feet, times 2, of excess radiation that's released into the immediate area. Seriously, did no one consider this reality in the design?

    Furthermore, these same low-level particles are shot directly at some of the most susceptible tissue in the human body. That's just outright moronic.

    Was it Johns Hopkins that said the greatest danger in using these machines was a few feet to either opening and 14 feet above them? It's because the excess radiation is likely shot out into these areas, and from what I can tell, there's a lot of excess radiation.

    I believe that these already low-level energy particles are sent erratically into the area immediately around the machines, attacking the skin tissue of screeners who stand next to them all day at the entrance and exit - that's at least 3 people from what I've seen (moat dragon, male and female exit gropers), and travelers waiting to enter and at the exit waiting for clearance. Add to that the stress of the screening environment for TSA employees standing around these machines all day, standing next to high-volume fluroscope imagine machines used for carry on baggage, who are more likely than not morbidly obese, chronically unhappy, smokers with poor eating habits, I'm not surprised at all to see a rise in general illness and cancer rates in the TSA employee population.

    Ye reap what ye sow, as they say.
    nachtnebel likes this.
  20. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Never mind the poor soul standing in the machine. They are literally bombard with low-level radiation over the entire surface of their body in a matter of seconds.

    That most certainly cannot be safe.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.

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