Journalism in the Public Interest

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

A 1998 safety panel was reassured X-ray body scanners wouldn’t see widespread use. Today, despite having a safer alternative that the U.S. government deems highly effective, the Transportation Security Administration is marching millions of airline passengers through the scanners, parting ways with European countries that concluded radiation from routine airport use poses a health risk.

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Nov. 1, 2011, 2:57 p.m.

What we ask of the muslim community is to remove the commands to kill kufir (nonmuslims) foremost from the koran.  It has been rewritten a thousand times before.  It’s time for the New Koran.


Nov. 1, 2011, 2:59 p.m.

I haven’t been inside a Stalinist airport in 2-1/2 years on account of TSA goons, gropers and strip-searches.  I drive everywhere.  Takes longer.  It’s not modesty, but violation of my dignity that I object to.


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:01 p.m.

My last trip through the airport I was never asked if I wanted to be x-ray’d or patted down. I would have chosen the latter. I hate x-rays!


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:02 p.m.

Regardless of who the terrorists are (kind of a silly side discussion), it is important to remember that the TSA has NOT CAUGHT ANY terrorists since it was founded. None.

So far all the would-be airplane terrorists since 9/11 have been either caught by the police on their way to the airport, or they have been overpowered by fellow passengers.

Having slightly more invasive security checks in exchange for improved security might make sense, but only if the TSA actually catches anyone. So far they have not, and the additional security spending has been nothing but a boondoggle for well connected industries.


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:06 p.m.

Ronald Paul, who are you to declare someone a racist? If not trusting Muslims makes me a racist, then you’re damned right, I am a proud racist. Muslims are responsible for the loss of American liberties, and I don’t like it one bit. If you don’t like it here, go live in a Muslim country and see who cares what you think.


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:08 p.m.

Listen lets not lose focus here they need to do away with these body scanners.  TSA = TOTALLY STUPID ASSHOLES!!!

Seriously! ever these these people they way the act? some of them think their still in the ghetto.  If they did the job the way they are supposed to then these CANCER CAUSING SCANNERS wouldnt be here…


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:13 p.m.

I wonder how soon the TSA will announce that it will be mandatory to go through a body scanner. I wouldn’t doubt that the option of a pat-down will become history.


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:14 p.m.

I know QUITE a few good MUSIM people BUT LETS BE HONEST HERE.  If 9/11 never happened this discussion and many others would not have happened.  Very simple we need to start drilling for our OWN oil get off foreign dependency let the middle east fight each other kill each other what ever.  And anyone who objects to OUR WAY OF LIFE HERE IN THE USA should GET THE F@K OUT ASAP!!!!  Plenty of ARAB countries with SHARIA LAW that they can go too! if not THEN STFU!!!!!!!

Ronald Paul

Nov. 1, 2011, 3:18 p.m.

Quran quotes about peace-

“Whosoever killeth a human being, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.” 5:32

“Say :O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship ... to you be your Way, and to me mine.”  109: 1-6

“But if the enemy Incline towards peace, Do thou (also) incline Towards peace, and trust In God.” 8:61

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.” 2:256

“And if any of the idolaters seeks of thee protection, grant him protection till he hears the words of God.” 9:6

“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the unbeliever address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.” 25:63

Fanny Forbes Franklen

Nov. 1, 2011, 3:29 p.m.

“Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.” ~ H. L. Mencken


Nov. 1, 2011, 3:55 p.m.

I have to ask why Americans are so willing to give up their individual freedoms for Muslims? Every one of us know who is most likely to be the culprit of possible attacks. That is not to say that a non Muslim might be crazy and do something stupid. I say profile and search the real threat. Until the Muslim community takes more responsibility and ceases their hatred of the U.S. it is certainly not the time for America to be politically correct. Our government should let no more of them in our country and stop them, yes them, from traveling. The U.S. is becoming a police state. TSA, Homeland Security in States are now setting up additional road blocks under the guise of checking for drunk driving when the real reason is to check for Illegals. Again how much are Americans going to give up? We do not need Illegals nor Muslims in the USA.

Michael S.

Nov. 1, 2011, 4 p.m.

Anyone who says profiling is the answer has a seriously ill conceived plan for securing the nation. Even if all terrorists were young muslim males, it wouldn’t take much for them to hire or radicalize a white male to sneak a bomb on a plane. Because you chose not to screen this white male, a bunch of people die. Profiling, real genius at work guys.


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:01 p.m.

This is part of the reason why I no longer fly. Who, in their right mind, would subject themself to this kind of abuse?


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:02 p.m.

Why of cource the can,  because thet’re the GOVERNMENT and they are here to help us. Who helps us from them?


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:03 p.m.

They hate us because we’re free.

It has nothing to do with foreign agencies overthrowing their democratically elected governments.

It has nothing to do with “made in USA” missiles raining down on their cities.

It has nothing to do with propping up dictators to suppress popular will.

It has nothing to do with using depleted uranium rounds to kill their people.

It has nothing to do with arming both sides of a conflict or loaning both sides money.

It has nothing to do with putting a foreign military base on their land.

It has nothing to do with taking their resources and giving them paper promises in return.

It has nothing to do with killing innocent people with drones while the president laughs about it.

......nope im a big cooky conspiracy theorist for suggesting that perhaps our government lies to its citizens to perpetuate a creeping police state.

They hate me because I have the freedom to type this!

How will we know when enough “terrorists” have been killed so that I can travel with dignity?

Gunny G

Nov. 1, 2011, 4:05 p.m.

OF COURSE OBAMA DID! He HAD to hook his Master Soros up! Rapiscan was HEAVILY invested in by Soros.

Well done again libtards.

Ronald Paul

Nov. 1, 2011, 4:11 p.m.

Matt, nice comment. Did you hear that from the GOP debate when Ron Paul said it? If not, research him. He has been saying exactly that for years and years.

John M.

Nov. 1, 2011, 4:23 p.m.

I’m retired now but I spent most of my working life as an engineer and technician doing things with electromagnetic radiation.  I have seen so many bizarre, unexpected behaviors from electronic equipment that I reject claims that any of it is completely safe.

Consider only the possibility that of the thousands of routine maintenance actions in a year (cleaning air filters, for example), a few of them will be performed negligently—shield panels not re-installed, some screws left loose or even out, etc.  Those scanners (and you don’t know which ones they are) are going to hurt people.

Please don’t argue they’re tested regularly.  Radiation measurements are difficult and exacting.  Even experts don’t get them right all the time.


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:27 p.m.

I simply can not believe that any one would have their head so deep in sand to believe the government is not doing racial profiling now. What is happening is to cover it up they search Granny to hide that fact.

Why not racial profile openly and leave Granny alone if of course she is thought to be a Muslim and they need to check exactly what is under the body cover-ups.


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:29 p.m.

I’ll take my chances, liberty over “safety’

Why does anyone expect the government to protect them when they can’t even balance a checkbook?


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:50 p.m.

What else is there to say.  I do not trust our government and therefore will not be flying in the foreseeable future. 

By the way, what about frequent flyers, am I to assume they are safe?


Nov. 1, 2011, 4:55 p.m.

Back-scatter machines emits radiation, the millimeter wave machines emit (almost) none - about 1/10,000 of a cell phone call. TSA uses BOTH types of machines. The public can opt-out of either machine, but then will get a pat-down. The traveling public should educate themselves with already published information, that I repeat here. These are the facts.

Rob P

Nov. 1, 2011, 5:05 p.m.

Islam is not a religion. It is a political system. Religion is used to mask their real agenda.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:06 p.m.

Ron Paul:
Thank you for denouncing terrorism, I hope you stay safe! I also hope that other members of Islam that are religious leaders can step in and stop the hate. Unfortunately, there has been some hypocrisy with public denouncing but quiet financial support of terrorism.
Now, to Scott:
Scott, I am not disputing that the supposed amount of radiation may be minimal. My major problem is NO ONE but the machine manufacturer themsevles are policing or testing these things. That is crazy from the get go. TSA operators are not trained to be operating an X Ray machine, period. All we have is the word of the manufacturer and our government (and we all know they would NEVER lie, right?) telling us it’s safe, and that radiation leaks are “impossible”. Really? Anyone want to tell me why then they completely bypassed normal protocol for approval, will not allow TSA workers to wear detection badges, and only Rapiscan is monitoring? So many things that are approved by our government are supposedly safe, but then we find out they most certainly are not. I fear this is a major problem in the making in the coming years. This is the most ridiculous piece of crap technology that does nothing to stop terrorists. Nothing.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:07 p.m.

I’m opting for physical patdown.  Hope everybody evaluates the risks and chooses a minor annoyance over a potential harmfull scan.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:22 p.m.

Mr Ron

You claim to be a muslim but you obviously dont read and study your quran very closely because while you say it preaches peace and love it actually says in essence convert the infadels or kill them!! Islam IS NOT a religion of peace and love!!!!  That is why you have so many wackos out there blowing them selves up !!. They are just doing what their religion tells them to do in exchange for the reward of 72 virgins when they meet allah!!!


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:37 p.m.

The only “moderate” muslims are those that don’t follow their religion closely. Apostates in other words. Just as there are those who claim to be “Christians” yet deny the Virgin birth or even the Trinity.

Muslims teach that Christ is NOT God and thus are in total contradiction to Christianity. Islam seeks to force the entire world under its control. It is an ideology, not a religion. The insidious plan is to claim it as a religion while usurping the Constitution and to eventually replace it and put the United States under sharia law.

There is now a lawsuit in which some muslims enrolled in a CATHOLIC school and are now compaining that they can’t find a room without a cross or picture of Christ for their “prayers”.... Just imagine someone going into a mosque and demanding a room WITH a picture of Christ to say THEIR prayers,,,,,, it is time to put an immediate end to this infiltration. Beginning with the muslim messiah in the whitehouse. Every act he takes is to the benefit of radical muslims. He is using OUR wealth to overthrow “moderate” governments and install more radical ones. He is even using our military illegaly to eliminate any competitors in his goal to oversee the muslim world, with our nation being part of it.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:43 p.m.

There are a great many people in this country who have already reached their limit on radiation exposure. I am one of those. In ‘99 I had a rare form of cancer (less than 1500 cases diagnosed that year) and after treatment found I had sustained a major amount of radiation damage to the point it almost killed me last year (went from my normal 125lbs down to 80 lbs). I’m well aware that life itself and the enviroment exposes me to more but if I have a choice I need to avoid any exposure that I can possible avoid. Those backscatter machines are far too dangerous for me. There are many people like me. So if I do have to fly it will be a “groping” experience for me but it would be better if the agents didn’t try to treat all those who refuse to go through those machines as if we are criminals.FYI, I am a 57 year old female who has been a housewife/mother and am the proud parent of two daughters and two grandbabies. I vote in every election and am a very proud American who can trace her ancestors back to one of the founding fathers.Till they stop using those machines I will avoid flying at all cost. About the only thing that will make me fly now if a family emergency.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:47 p.m.

Isn’t former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff working for one of these scanner companies? (Rapiscan I believe) - no conflict of interest there as they got approved while he was in charge.  What a pig.  Our entire government is for sale, and we the people haven’t enough cash to buy it.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:57 p.m.


You are a voice of reason on here .Iam enjoying your posts.


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:58 p.m.

Rebecca Smith-Bindman is government hack who used the old iformation TSA gave her and regurgitated the results that TSA wanted. Her study is a complete joke and no actual scanners were tested.

The scanners already had privacy software and were using it in Europe over a year ago, so why has it taken so long to use it here? Now TSA is spending an additional $42 million to install software that they could have had to begin with for free. These are the same machines with an overlay to hide the image shown to the public. The Rapi-Scan x-ray units will still produce a realistic naked image and also pose a cancer risk. The EPIC lawsuit revealed that TSA has stored these images and TSA admitted it. So there are thousands of naked images of passengers stored in computers TSA without their consent.

When the scanners went into service in November TSA said the images were cartoonish and could be on the cover of Readers Digest. In August Denver TSA area director Pat Ahlstrom, said the scans ” were graphic, no doubt about it,” So the TSA story about these being “chalk outlines” was a lie used to pacify travelers and conceal the fact they were in fact being strip searched.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has challenged the validity of the TSA results and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory disputed TSA’s claim that they deemed these safe. NIST indicated that operators could be harmed and recommended that anyone working near the scanners wear a dosimeter but TSA denied the AFGE request for screeners to wear dosimeters.

There are still naked images in the system and they will be susceptible to leaks onto the internet. TSA is simply trying to gather PR points before they have to seek public comment on the scanners as ordered in the EPIC case ruling. They have repeatedly lied about every aspect of the screening process and this is no exception. It is long past time to dismantle this agency and prosecute those responsible for this travesty.

TSA Crimes & Abuses


Nov. 1, 2011, 5:59 p.m.

I’m going to Tucson from Virginia in March.  Guess who is not going to get X-rayed.  Me.  I’m driving, and will have a good time seeing the sights along the way.  This nonsense has to stop, and the sooner people start refusing to fly, the sooner it will.  See U on the highway.


Nov. 1, 2011, 6:13 p.m.

I don’t care about workers or passengers dying because of the TSA, any longer.
They don’t, why the *bleep* should I?
Let the actual useless eater turn to dust.

Ellen Hutt

Nov. 1, 2011, 6:23 p.m.

Hey People get used to it!  The TSA has secured funding for travelling X-ray machines and are now stopping vehicles for random checks on the highways. Look it up it has started in Tennessee


Nov. 1, 2011, 6:26 p.m.

You cannot trust the Left; you cannot trust The Messiah. And God willing, in 12 short months we won’t have to.

John D.

Nov. 1, 2011, 6:29 p.m.

The terrorists are in the White House.


Nov. 1, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

Anyone who believes the TSA or anything else is below a low grade moronic human being and that is who they have working for them.


Nov. 1, 2011, 6:37 p.m.

The solution to the question is so simple…..

Have Janet Napolitano go through the machines EVERY time she flies.  Have Senators and Representatives go through the machines EVERY time they fly.  Have Obama and his family go through the machines EVERY time they fly.  Have Robin Kane, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security technology, that said “that no one would get cancer because the amount of radiation the X-ray scanners emit is minute” go through the machines EVERY time he flies.

Then we would all know if the machines are dangerous….oh wait a minute….none of these people have to go through them since they are all “special” people where the rules don’t apply to them.

Since the people telling us WE have to go through them but they don’t I guess we already know the answer….these machines are dangerous and will give you cancer.

Jill W

Nov. 1, 2011, 6:49 p.m.

An Alternative with no radiation:

David Sullivan

Nov. 1, 2011, 8:13 p.m.

The body scanners are just “crony capitalism.”  This whole appearance of safety thing and “Monsters, Inc.” environment has to go.  We’re a bunch of scared sheeple.  Americans have become really, really weak.

The government is at fault for almost everything that goes wrong in the country.  They steal from us and try to kill us.


Nov. 1, 2011, 8:27 p.m.

There have been zero bombings by suicidal airline passengers using non-metallic bombs in the passenger cabin for over 48 YEARS of ALL FLIGHTS in the US. Perhaps Americans should get over their irrational fears so we can become the “Home of the Brave” like we used to be. Today, we are subjugated by the TSA which just affirms the terrorists have won by reducing our freedoms through electronic strip searches (yes, the ‘gingerbread man’ images are not everywhere) and accosting our private parts. When the heck did it become ok in America for government clerks to touch your and your children’s private parts? This is especially disgusting as people in wheelchairs or those with artificial knees and hips are singled out - profiled you might say.

Instead, the TSA is performing out-of-control illegal and abusive searches because of their methods. Our nation survived quite well with metal detectors for 8+ years after 9-11. The so-called “underwear bomber” - appropriately reported for once - had failed miserably and boarded a plane OUTSIDE the US. Theoretically, Al-Queda’s James Bondsian bomb maker had 8 years to test and perfect a working non-metallic bomb - and it failed.


Nov. 1, 2011, 8:58 p.m.

dave @ 6:57, thanks. I try. However, I really think it’s just plain common sense, which sadly, more and more Americans seem to be woefully lacking. It’s just a train of reasoning from beginning to end, and requires and average intelligence and the willingness to realize that the dots connect.
1. The terrorists that attacked us 9/11 and continue to do so are Muslim. Does anyone dispute this? Anyone want to refute this with some kind of information that this is the NRA? Lamb of Christ? The Moonies? IRA? Didn’t think so.
2. No terrorist since 9/11 has actually been stopped by the TSA. The FBI, CIA, even local police, and yes, just plain you and me. Anyone want to refute that?
3. We have NO IDEA how much radiation we are exposed to by these machines. None. No gauge is mounted anywhere for us all to see, no badges, nothing. Yes, the government has said it’s “negligible” but that is not a number folks. Right? Is the word “negligible” a number? No, it’s not.
4. Has an 80 year old Catholic woman in a wheelchair, from Hackensack, or Philly, or Boston, or Elk Snout, every perpetrated a terroist even on us? NO. Anyone want to Wikipedia that and get back to me?
5. Has a child (and I am talking under 12 here folks) every perpetrated a terrorist attack on American soil, an American embassy, military base, etc? Check, but my bet is NO.

So why is the TSA feeling us up? What are they looking for in my bra? Hmmm? How about your Aunt Ethel’s fake breast she wears after a mastectomy? Or uncle Albert’s colostomy bad? Are they hiding radioactive material there? Anthrax? The WWII vet with the plate in his head…he using for something other than to cover his brain?
So, obviously, NO common sense is being used. Why? Because we have become a nation of scared, wimpy, sheep afraid to “insult” someone. But don’t you feel just a little insulted when they grab your 10 year old daughter’s crotch? Just a tad insulted when your constitutional right of freedom from unlawful search and seizure is being taken away? Anyone? I am. I don’t like it one little bit. And I sure as hell don’t like the TSA stealing from our luggage, watching child porn and then coming to work, missing loaded guns in luggage, insulting me, yelling at you. holding up the line, and then telling me it’s for “my own good.” Do you honestly think after 9/11 that any terrorists could actually take a plane over? Do you? Stand up, refuse the scan. Make em pat us all down. Oh, with clean gloves please. I prefer my body search MRSA free.


Nov. 1, 2011, 9:16 p.m.

Following up on OldGeez 7:37 pm:
How about we make it mandatory for all federal employees and their dependents (basically, anyone eligible for that gold-plated federal health care, whether they take it or not) to go through the porn scanner. First and second offenses (failure) a misdemeanor, third time is a felony. True, we can’t catch the congress-critters going to and from a session (see Art. I, Section 6), but we could catch their spouses, staff, etc.  Congress would never pass such a law, but why can’t the states pass them, making it a state crime?


Nov. 1, 2011, 9:17 p.m.

I am a victim of radiation exposure received by my father, who was stationed in Hiroshima two months after the bomb was dropped, for a period of 53 days in the “hottest spot.” The radiation mutated the genes in his sperm, which caused me to have significant bone deformities on my right side.  As a result, my right leg was amputated at the knee when I was a toddler.

He lived another 60 years, although he developed a very rare condition - oncogenic osteomalacia - that by the time of his death was reported only 37 times in the US.  It was also reported in a Japanese man that was an adolescent in the same prefecture my father occupied.

Radiation exposure causes birth defects.  The NSTI and Johns Hopkins University both warned the TSA that the backscatter machines were not sufficiently shielded and as a result there were areas around and above that received radiation overshoot.  The TSA was advised that people should not routinely stand in those areas, however the exact time limit was redacted (per EPIC’s FOIA).

In it’s illogical and totally over-reactive solution, Washington is placing millions of people at risk.  Radiation bio-accumulates, individual people have different tolerances to radiation and a good 5% of the population have gene variants that make it very difficult for them to repair DNA damage from radiation. There is therefore no way anyone can vouchsafe the safety of these machines for everyone, because they are NOT safe for everyone.

Oh… and as a side note: because radiation caused my birth defects, which caused my amputation, I now have the “right and privilege” of being molested and harassed every time I attempt to fly. Gee, thank you, US of A. That is the reason I will not fly commercial.  No amount of convenience is worth having a stranger’s unwelcome hands everywhere on my VERY private body. This may be quaint, but I still believe that I have the right to dictate who sees me naked and who touches me where.  And that’s not some blue-shirt stranger.


Nov. 1, 2011, 9:37 p.m.

I’m traveling from Virginia to Tucson next March.  Guess who is not going to get X-rayed.  Me.  I’m driving.  That’s what it’s going to take - the aboandonment of the abuse - to get ‘em to stop the nonsense.

Duncan Moore

Nov. 1, 2011, 10:04 p.m.

I don’t think the government, TSA, or the manufacturer are telling the truth about these machines. You can’t even trust hospitals to calibrate their machines correctly; why would you take this manufacturer’s word for it?The TSA personnel who have to work near them should be frightened for their health, but I am sure the hiring process weeds out any airport screeners with the courage to think for themselves.
I always refuse the X-ray and opt for a pat-down. Clearly, the TSA people don’t like it when you do this; it slows down the processing of the herd. I always tell them to feel me up: “Go ahead, touch my junk as much as you need to.” The guys in the rubber gloves really love it when you tell them that.
It’s all part of the plan to turn the U.S. into a proto-fascist police state. We’re most of the way there already.  You have to humiliate the collaborationists in whatever little ways you can think of.


Nov. 2, 2011, 1:03 a.m.

In their last throes of self-destruction, governments tend to pass arbitrary laws on small matters, because they are no longer capable of handling major decisions, such as economics, who their actual enemies are and which promises to honor.
Since these governments cannot handle those major decisions, they tend to try to control the small matters in citizens’ lives, such as what kind of faucets they should use in their bathrooms or what kinds of machines they should have in their houses. I even know of one town that penalizes residents for using TOO LITTLE WATER.
This idiocy extends to all levels of government, but the Federal Government is the most obtrusive of all with all kind of arbitrary and meaningless laws and regs.


Nov. 2, 2011, 1:40 a.m.

We will continue to see this kind of government abuse until enough Americans start pushing back.  But no one seems to care, or at least not enough of us.


Nov. 2, 2011, 5:36 a.m.


Nov. 2, 2011, 5:43 a.m.

Me, I am concerned about the x-ray level…but frankly what I think is going to kill me is a stroke resulting from my blood pressure climbing as a particularly autocratic TSA gate guard exercises his or her authority to the fullest extent possible - and then some - just because they can.

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