speaking of the tsa

Around seven months ago, almost to the day, I wrote the following words:

There is no safe level or threshold of ionizing radiation exposure.

… in response to the Thousands of Sexual Assaulters’ new "backscatter scanners" and the x-ray radiation those devices will be flooding users and observers with.

I am not a nuclear engineer. What little knowledge I have on the topic comes from purely recreational reading and no first-hand experience or training. However, it turns out I might have been more right than not:

On June 24, 2011, EPIC released documents obtained from DHS as a result of EPIC’s lawsuit.

The disclosed documents include agency emails, radiation studies, memoranda of agreement concerning radiation testing programs, and results of some radiation tests.

The documents raise new questions concerning the radiation risks posed by the TSA full body scanner program. The records demonstrate:

• TSA employees have identified cancer clusters allegedly linked to radiation exposure while operating body scanners and other screening technology. However, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters – safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure.
• The DHS has publicly mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST "affirmed the safety" of full body scanners. NIST stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test full body scanners for safety, and that the Institute does not do product testing.
• A Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit.”
• A NIST study warns airport screeners to avoid standing next to full body scanners.

By and large, I generally avoided any kind of nuclear technology during my time in the military; however, the one time I spent any time at all onboard an active nuclear submarine, I was issued a dosimeter that was checked and recorded in my permanent medical file… and I was only on that boat for all of three days (the reading was, for all intents and purposes, 0 – I received less radiation eating, sleeping, and living cuddled up to a hot nuclear reactor (and probable nuclear warheads) than I would have if I spent the same amount of time at the beach). By the same token, consider every time you go to the dentists’/doctors’ and they have to take x-rays of your body – where do the nurses/doctors go? Outside of the room. And what do they give you? A big honkin’ lead-impregnated apron to wear over the parts of you that are not getting irradiated.

Ever notice how the nudity … er … porno … er … backscatter scanners and their operators are completely devoid of shielding (aside from whatever is in those blue boxes, which does not protect people in front of, behind, or above them)?

This is a problem, and this is a problem that has been compounded by gross negligence by the TSA in the past.

And now that this problem has started detrimentally affecting the TSA employees, suddenly people start caring – coincidental that. I, very briefly, started to feel sorry for those TSA agents and employees who have apparently contracted cancer due to their exposure to ionizing radiation scanners – after all, they were not the ones who decided the policy, and the people who did decide the policy are, for the time, escaping both the accountability and consequences of their actions – but then I remembered that those TSA-uniform-wearing individuals chose to work for an agency that has specifically admitted to intentionally violating our Constitutionally-protected rights, and my sympathy kind of evaporates. Radiation is not some unknown, mystical hand-wavery any more. And the TSA… well, everyone knows what the TSA is. Choices were made, and while the TSA as a whole has been grossly negligent in their testing of these porno-scanners, in issuing and tracking dosimeters, and in protecting the health of their employees, those employees did not have to work for such uncaring, authoritarian employers.

If you absolutely have to fly, at this point, I would strongly recommend that you request the "enhanced pat-down" rather than walk through one of those nudity-scanners – the indignity of being sexually assaulted by a complete stranger paid to do exactly that will only last a few minutes, but ionizing-radiation-induced cancer can, quite literally, kill you.

(Courtesy of Traction Control, Say Uncle, and The Everlasting Phelps.)

3 thoughts on “speaking of the tsa”

  1. “There is no safe level or threshold of ionizing radiation exposure.” Hormesis; apartment dwellers housed in buildings made with radioactive rebar not only did not develop cancer above the expected rate, they were well below the expected rate. A pleasant surprise for all involved.

    “where do the nurses/doctors go? Outside of the room.” Yep. Because being exposed umpteen times per day every day for the length of ones career is a career-ender. BTW, radiological staff have no more cancers than joe average due to such practices. Nevertheless, I always tried to put the senior tech and the doc twixt me and the major source of backscatter, a.k.a. the patient. Good times.

    “completely devoid of shielding” Uncaring idiots are in charge.

    “grossly negligent in their testing” See above comment about uncaring idiots.

    “Radiation is not some unknown, mystical hand-wavery…” It is to Joe Sixpack running the scanner.

    “those employees did not have to work for” Ya gotta eat and “the boss sez it is safe”.

    Sigh. Thank dog I’m to poor to fly and no one wants me to visit anyway. I need a drink.

  2. The only problem with hormesis, at least in terms of radiation, is that the United States National Research Council, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation all seem relatively unconvinced that it is actually real… and, honestly, who the hell wants to be the test gerbil for that?

    Of course, that said, all life on this planet is arguably a byproduct of ionizing radiation, so there is that.

    Anywise, my dad spent somewhere around 15 years of his life curled up to a high-output nuclear reactor, and ended up receiving a lower dosage in that time than if he had been topside. Radiation is not the problems. Idiots are the problem.

    As for “they have to eat”, I am sure the guards at Auschwitz had to eat too…

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