Journalism in the Public Interest

TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports

The Transportation Security Administration has been removing its X-ray body scanners from LAX, O’Hare and JFK, and putting them in less-busy airports. The X-ray machines have faced criticism over radiation and privacy.

« Return to Story

Sort by: Oldest Newest  <  1 2


Oct. 21, 2012, 4:01 a.m.

ROBBIE, extremely well put!


Oct. 21, 2012, 12:25 p.m.

In 2011, the World Health Organization designated non-ionizing radiation (Radiofrequency/Microwave radiation) as a Class 2B Carcinogen, placing it in the same category as DDT and lead.  The TSA has determined that human beings should be microwaved instead of X-rayed?  Both technologies are dangerous.


Oct. 21, 2012, 1:20 p.m.

Bluplanet, Thanks for posting.
It seems (no one knows for certain), low levels of radiation can be as damaging or worse than higher levels.
Apparently Hiroshima survivor results were used to determine limits for these x-ray machines, therefore no low levels were used as a basis or even investigated thoroughly, though some experts tried to get sufficient information, it was blocked.
As others commented above, all kinds of health hazards are surfacing that no one looked at earlier from these low levels or extra radiation, all of which is cumulative. It does not leave the body unless one works to make some of it depart.
Similar to over-abundance of atmospheric mercury, arsenic and pesticides, we live in chemical stew, then the govt. intent on protecting us? adds more insult to ongoing injury.
Low level radiation from Fukishima is coming down each time it rains, and may last for several more years…
Why the TSA did not simply remove their x-ray machines, instead choosing to add to the radiation burden of people using healthcare, already rife with over-use of x-rays in medical scans, is anyone’s guess.
Just opt out.
Tell them you’ve had a CAT scan and wish no more scans.
Make yourself a burden to this ill-advised system.


Oct. 21, 2012, 2:26 p.m.

If there is a very low risk of cancer, then why have so many of the TSA workers operating the device been getting cancer?


Oct. 21, 2012, 5:26 p.m.

Every time we allow ourselves to be scanned, prodded, and searched up and down by the TSA thugs, it is a slap in the face to all those who gave their lives on 9/11, and reinforces the fact that the terrorists have won by taking our basic freedoms away from us, all in the name of some unrealistic safety”.  Every day, the TSA oversteps the bounds of our Constitution.  Sad.


Oct. 21, 2012, 6:54 p.m.

Is this so?
Do you have a link?
haven’t seen reports, yet waiting for this shoe to drop…


Oct. 21, 2012, 9:18 p.m.

The first round of machines were a boon to the contractors as well as heavy investors…like Michael Chertoff.  Now we get another contract and another round of machines so the same people can profit. The dangers of the first round were hidden by the TSA; why should anyone believe them now?

Are the first round of machines going to be sent back for a refund?  Most likely not.

We are paying for our own demise.


Oct. 22, 2012, 2:39 p.m.

I’ve written an artical on the TSA recently and would like to see what open minded people on here think. Please visit my website and let me know what you think. Thanks


Oct. 22, 2012, 4 p.m.

This has NOTHING to do with protecting us from “evil terrorists”. 

This is about domination and control.  It is the stuff of police states.

And it is only going to get worse.  Much worse. 

Stop letting these control-freaks force radiation on your wife and children!  Where are the men in this country??


Oct. 22, 2012, 6:54 p.m.

To those who worry about what other countries are doing: why do you assume that EU is right and US is wrong?  EU’s failure to use back-scatter technology simply tells me that its leader are easily swayed by conjecture not supported by science.  The science is clear: there is no more risk than flying in the plane itself, but places like EU choose to ignore the science and cave to uneducated alarmists instead.

Bill Fisher

Oct. 22, 2012, 7:34 p.m.

This is worse than the puffer scandal. In eleven years taxpayers have wasted $80 billion dollars on TSA only to get worse results than before.

The Europeans don’t allow the scanners to be used on children because the image is so graphic it violates child pornography laws. Germany banned them and went back to metal detectors because of the 54% false positive rate while failing to detect items 40% of the time.

The 244 Rapi-Scan backscatter x-ray units pose a cancer risk and produce a naked image that Denver TSA area director Pat Ahlstrom, admitted “were graphic, no doubt about it.”.

By sending children through the x-ray scanners TSA is producing child pornography in violation of numerous State and Federal laws. Only TSA could get away with making child pornography all day and get paid to do it.

The scanner program should be halted immediately and TSA forced to correct the rampant problems in the current scanner program. The x-ray units pose a potential health risk and research has shown that the x-ray scanners could prove harmful to women with BRCA gene and cause a significantly heightened risk of developing cancer.

The current scanners have not been independently tested and lawsuits are still pending on questions regarding their safety. TSA has not taken comment on the deployment of the current scanners despite being ordered by a court to do so before the end of 2012. The will not be resolved until late in 2013. No additional scanners should be bought or installed until that process is complete.

Does anyone really feel safer having people who will rub stranger’s genitals in public for $15 an hour in charge of security? There were no hijackings between 2002 and 2009 without these punitive measures and they aren’t necessary now.

This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer funds given the current budget crisis. Millions of dollars that are desperately needed elsewhere are being wasted on TSA and its gadgets without improving security or the pitiful quality of TSA workers.

TSA is beyond salvage and must be replaced. The incessant abuses, failures and crimes have caused too much public animosity for this agency to ever be reputable.

Richard M Stallman

Oct. 23, 2012, 2:37 a.m.

It’s too bad the TSA does not take this opportunity to get rid of
X-ray scanners.  The X-ray scanners were never properly tested for
safety, and there are reasons to think they could be more dangerous
that the supposed dosage level would suggest.


Therefore, I always opt out when they ask me to go through an X-ray scanner.
However, I don’t opt out from the millimeter-wave scanners.


Oct. 23, 2012, 9:52 a.m.

CorporateHate, you mean we don’t remember that time some single-minded sociopaths with no respect for human life tried to scare the American public into submitting to their whims?  Funny, I’m reminded of it every time someone brings up the TSA, though maybe not for the reasons you’d prefer.

And again, lock the cockpit and the plane is no longer a target.  It’s cheaper, easier, and much scarier to poison a busy mall at Christmastime than to blow up a plane, if all you’re going to do is kill people.  To a terrorist, the only value in a plane is in hijacking it, which a good cockpit door prevents.


Oct. 23, 2012, 10:18 a.m.

TSA told us that the Strip Search Machines would only be used as a secondary means of screening.  TSA LIED!

TSA told us that the BackScatter Strip Search Machines had been tested for safety.  TSA LIED!

TSA told us that the Strip Search Machines were as fast as other screening methods.  TSA LIED!

It is time to take a stand against TSA. 


Put pressure on the airlines to take control of this problem.  If you must fly then observe National Opt Out Week (November 19th, 2012 – November 26th, 2012).  Send a message to TSA that they can understand.

(November 19th, 2012 – November 26th, 2012)

Opt Out of the Body Scanner and other Invasive TSA Procedures”

In the U.S. travel is a right as determined by the United States Supreme Court.  Their decision doesn’t limit the means regardless of what TSA may think or say.

“The Supreme Court ruled that travel is a right:
On June 16, 1958, in Kent v. Dulles (357 US 116), the United States Supreme Court wrote these words, which appear three times in the decision: “The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which a citizen cannot be deprived without the due process of law of the Fifth Amendment.””

Let us all pitch in to make National Opt Out and Film Week successful.  Do not let yourself be intimidated by TSA and their thuggish employees.


Oct. 23, 2012, 4:53 p.m.

TSA = Terrorizing Submissive Americans


Oct. 24, 2012, 6:16 p.m.

I think this is a good choice by the TSA. The TSA needs to keep safety at a top priority, but at the same time security lines have become quite long. These new X-ray machines are a great way to keep that safety, yet speed up the process a little bit.

Dweeb Tightass Tsaagent

Oct. 25, 2012, 12:42 a.m.

Monkeys in Blue Uniforms suck my kiss.

Cindi Burkey

Oct. 25, 2012, 10:35 p.m.

....Scientists say that, in contrast to X-rays, such waves have no known mechanism to damage DNA and cause cancer.

“No known mechanism” 

...doesn’t mean “doesn’t cause cancer.”

...In fact, that’s what’s being said about Smart Meters, cell phones, wifi, and everything else spewing emr into our bodies and environment. 

“No known mechanism” doesn’t mean there isn’t a linkage, doesn’t mean a dose-response relationship hasn’t been uncovered over and over again, and doesn’t mean lots and lots of people aren’t getting sick——because they are, and it’s just beginning.

But hey, Reactor 4 has sunk 30 inches since 3/11, so if the non-ionizing radiation doesn’t kill us, we’re still signed up to breathe and eat gamma rays next time the plates slip along the Ring of Fire.

Cindi Burkey

Oct. 25, 2012, 10:55 p.m.

I’m amazed at the comments by people who say cell phones don’t cause cancer.  Cell phones were never proven safe, and the telecom industry shut down George Carlo in the 90’s after his studies found that very thing. 

Study published last year by Hebrew University’s Hadassah School of Dentistry examined parotid gland tumors, and compared them to the other salivary gland tumors, over a 30 year period from 1976 to 2006. 

What the study found was that parotid gland tumors quadrupled in incidence over the 30 years.  The parotid gland is closest to the surface, near where you hold the cell phone.  There was no increase in tumors on the other salivary glands.

That’s just one study. 

More than 6,000 published scientific studies dating all the way back to the 1930’s have proven that low-level microwave radiation (and other frequency ranges of radiation) clearly cause significant harmful biological effects.
More info:

MY health is affected by the rf from YOUR cell phones—and ubiquitous cell mast towers—- because you just absolutely MUST carry your communications toys with you wherever you go. 

“But if it were true, it would be on the news.”  Uh—-no.  It’s not, and it won’t be.  Just take a gander at who owns the lobbying world, who owns the pols, and who pays the telecoms, print media, and billboard co’s ad money….THEN tell me you’ll hear about it on the news.  I’d giggle, but public health really isn’t funny, and neither is denial.


Oct. 26, 2012, 4:19 a.m.

@Cindy - also doesn’t mean that it DOES cause cancer.  Look at your logic: you could say “No known mechanism” about water, but by your logic, that doesn’t mean water doesn’t cause cancer either.  So are you going to avoid water because there’s no known mechanism by which it causes cancer?

“No known mechanism” = “there’s not only no evidence that it does, but there’s no possible way we can imagine that it does either”.  This is about as sure as scientists get, since you can’t logically prove a negative.


Oct. 29, 2012, 1:24 p.m.

How simplistic is this discussion? Has anyone who supports the boilerplate radiation levels stipulated by the machine makers, considered the CONCEPT of a VOLUME CONTROL KNOB?

Imagine that !  Maybe the machines are adaptive? they change radiation levels to get scatter at desired levels. Maybe they have so called “Feedback loops” in their architecture? Maybe the boilerplate is in spec, but the operator CAN TURN IT UP on ad hoc “as needed” basis?

Nothing is black and white here. It’s all grey. Maybe, people of color will have the volume turned “all the way up” the interests of safety of course! who knows? I don’t want them period.

They’ve been pushed to “low volume” airports b/c of collateral radiation to the TSA staff themselves at high volume airports eh? Ever think of that?


Oct. 31, 2012, 2:02 a.m.

Canines and metal detectors did a better job than millimeter wave machines and w/o violating anyone.  The real issue is not performance, it is making Michael Chertoff rich and matching naked body scans with ID thru facial recognition.  This will enable technology to ID and track our every move.


Nov. 12, 2012, 2:24 p.m.

For all the folks who want to know when the next “big terrorist attack” will come. Well, we all know Israel is itching to have a go at Iran, and talk is now about using a “theater nuclear device”. Now, it wouldn’t do Israel a bit of good being the first country to use a nuclear weapon in peacetime, and even hardcore Israel-supporters would rethink their support.

So what to do? Well, we need an “incident” involving terrorists and nuclear material. With my thinking cap on and divining rod in hand, I suggest that we will see a Pakistan-based group(and Pakistan is handily in the “harboring terrorists who might grab nuclear weapons” category) detonate a small device or a dirty bomb, most likely in the south of India where security is inept, even when compared to the north. My thinking is that it would likely take place near Bengaluru, the “Silicon Valley” of India.

Such an incident would handily provide a “moral edge” to Israel to use any means to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, what with rogue mullahs ordering dirty bomb attacks on call centers and BPOs. And if it results in all-out war between India and Pakistan, win-win, right? World population goes down, two nuclear powers self-destruct(and survivors can be placed in an IAEA straightjacket), Arab oil revenues plummet, global warming gets arrested, etc. But the “window” is small, and this would need to happen in the next 12 months or so. They’re burning the midnight oil somewhere at Mossad.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Body Scanners

Body Scanners: Risking Health to Secure Airports

In an effort to detect explosives hidden under clothing, is the TSA jeopardizing passenger safety?

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories