January 16, 2012
By Mike Adams
The Dual Ridge Metal Boutique tissue boxes sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond stores have been discovered to be radioactive. Made with the extremely dangerous material used to blast cancer tumors with radiation — cobalt-60 — they emit gamma rays that are known to cause both cancer and infertility. They were manufactured in India, shipped on a commercial container to New Jersey, and then distributed to Bed, Bath & Beyond stores in 20 states.
How much radiation do these tissue holders emit, exactly? Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman David McIntyre said, on the record, that standing near one of these tissue holders for 30 minutes a day would expose you to the equivalent of “a couple of chest X-Rays” each year. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency went even further, issuing a release stating that every 10 hours spent near the product would expose you to the equivalent of one chest X-Ray.
In case you were wondering, a chest X-Ray is not a small dose of radiation.
Ever since Fukushima, the corporate-run media has downplayed the risks of radiation exposure, and now they’re claiming that these radioactive products are “no big deal” because they “only” expose you to the equivalent of multiple chest X-Rays each year.
What if a customer has this on their nightstand, near their head, and they’re sleeping next to it for 8 hours a night? That means they’d be getting nearly the equivalent radiation of a chest X-Ray each night for 365 nights a year!
January 11, 2012
By Jonathan Benson
No matter how many times the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) claims the machines are safe and pose no threat to travelers or personnel, naked body scanners that emit ionizing radiation are, indeed, a very serious health threat. And Dr. Edward Dauer, head of radiology at Florida Medical Center, agrees, having recently come forward to explain that naked body scanners can cause cancer, particularly in those over age 65 and in women who are said to be genetically prone to developing breast cancer.
“I think it’s potentially a real danger to the public,” Dr. Dauer is quoted as saying by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Contrary to popular belief, even the so-called “small doses” of radiation emitted from the machines are toxic, and represent “additional exposure” that could lead to the onset of cancer.
The TSA continues to insist that the ionizing radiation emitted from its backscatter X-ray naked body scanner is minimal, and that individuals are exposed to far more background radiation every single day just living their normal lives. But the agency has not provided any solid proof to back this claim, and many experts say that the radiation emitted is concentrated on the skin in a much more harmful way.
In fact, a group of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has publicly countered the TSA’s claim that naked body scanners are no more dangerous than background radiation. The group says this claim is highly “misleading” because background radiation on airplanes, for instance, is absorbed by the whole body, whereas during a naked body scan, it is focused directly on the skin and its underlying tissues.
December 19, 2011
By Michael Grabell and Christian Salewski
“If you’re sweating, you could be a terrorist. Going through the body scanners make us nervous – hence the sweat.” –KTRN
While X-ray body scanners used in airports face concerns about potentially increasing cancer cases, a safer type of scanner has been plagued by another problem: a high rate of false alarms.
The scanner, known as the millimeter-wave machine, uses low-level electromagnetic waves that, unlike X-rays, have not been linked to cancer. The Transportation Security Administration already uses the millimeter-wave machine and says both types of scanners are highly effective at detecting explosives hidden under clothing.
But two of Europe’s largest countries, France and Germany, have decided to forgo the millimeter-wave scanners because of false alarms triggered by folds in clothing, buttons and even sweat.
In Germany, the false positive rate was 54 percent, meaning that every other person who went through the scanner had to undergo at least a limited pat-down that found nothing. Jan Korte, a German parliament member who focuses on homeland security, called the millimeter-wave scanner “a defective product.”
While it’s difficult to know for sure if the millimeter-wave machine has a worse false-alarm rate than the X-ray machine, recent tests suggests that it does. The TSA wouldn’t release its results, citing national security. But a British study found the X-ray machine had a false-alarm rate of just 5 percent.
For the millimeter-wave machines, a complicating factor is new privacy software that was installed in many countries after a public outcry over the scanners’ graphic images. The software automates detection and no longer creates an image of a passenger’s body. While false alarms were reported before automation when human screeners interpreted images, the software appears to have made the problem worse.
The privacy safeguards are also an obstacle to lowering the false-alarm rate, researchers say. The machines do not save images or data, which could be used to teach the software how to distinguish real threats from false ones.
The problem of false alarms comes down to fundamental physics. Millimeter waves penetrate clothing and reflect off objects. But because of their frequency, millimeter waves also reflect off water, which can cause the scanner to mistake sweat for a potentially dangerous object, said Doug McMakin, the lead researcher who developed the millimeter-wave scanner at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (X-rays, which operate at a higher frequency, pass through water more easily.)
November 21, 2011
By Jonathan Benson
“Here is a story that demonstrates the airport body scanners are not safe. I told a friend of mine that I would never in a million years go through one of these things. His response was that they are making us safer. It was at this moment I realized most people are brainwashed.” –Chris Davis KTRN
The European Commission has issued new guidelines for the use of naked body scanners at European airports. Only scanners that use millimeter wave technology, a type of low-energy radio wave that does not cause radioactive damage, will be permitted for use in the EU — the backscatter X-ray variety commonly used in the US will be off limits due to safety concerns.
Unlike the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which continues to insist that the backscatter machines are safe, EU regulators have admitted that this is not the case. Not only are these ionizing radiation machines now restricted throughout Europe, but the use of even millimeter wave machines also continues to remain optional for nation states that choose to use them.
“In order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports,” says the commission’s press release announcement. “All other technologies, such as that used for mobiles (sic) phones and others, can be used provided that they comply with EU security standards.”
This approach to public safety is a far cry from the one US regulators are taking. Even though backscatter X-ray machines are not at all necessary, the TSA, under the umbrella of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), continues to bend over backwards in support of the machines, even when this includes openly denying the fact that they can cause cancer.
November 7, 2011
by Michael Grabell
On Sept. 23, 1998, a panel of radiation safety experts gathered at a Hilton hotel in Maryland to evaluate a new device that could detect hidden weapons and contraband. The machine, known as the Secure 1000, beamed X-rays at people to see underneath their clothing.
One after another, the experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration raised questions about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle in radiation safety — that humans shouldn’t be X-rayed unless there is a medical benefit.
“I think this is really a slippery slope,” said Jill Lipoti, who was the director of New Jersey’s radiation protection program. The device was already deployed in prisons; what was next, she and others asked — courthouses, schools, airports? “I am concerned … with expanding this type of product for the traveling public,” said another panelist, Stanley Savic, the vice president for safety at a large electronics company. “I think that would take this thing to an entirely different level of public health risk.”
The machine’s inventor, Steven W. Smith, assured the panelists that it was highly unlikely that the device would see widespread use in the near future. At the time, only 20 machines were in operation in the entire country.
“The places I think you are not going to see these in the next five years is lower-security facilities, particularly power plants, embassies, courthouses, airports and governments,” Smith said. “I would be extremely surprised in the next five to 10 years if the Secure 1000 is sold to any of these.”
Today, the United States has begun marching millions of airline passengers through the X-ray body scanners, parting ways with countries in Europe and elsewhere that have concluded that such widespread use of even low-level radiation poses an unacceptable health risk. The government is rolling out the X-ray scanners despite having a safer alternative that the Transportation Security Administration says is also highly effective.
A ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation of how this decision was made shows that in post-9/11 America, security issues can trump even long-established medical conventions. The final call to deploy the X-ray machines was made not by the FDA, which regulates drugs and medical devices, but by the TSA, an agency whose primary mission is to prevent terrorist attacks.
Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines. Still, the TSA has repeatedly defined the scanners as “safe,” glossing over the accepted scientific view that even low doses of ionizing radiation — the kind beamed directly at the body by the X-ray scanners — increase the risk of cancer.
“Even though it’s a very small risk, when you expose that number of people, there’s a potential for some of them to get cancer,” said Kathleen Kaufman, the former radiation management director in Los Angeles County, who brought the prison X-rays to the FDA panel’s attention.
About 250 X-ray scanners are currently in U.S. airports, along with 264 body scanners that use a different technology, a form of low-energy radio waves known as millimeter waves.
Robin Kane, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security technology, said that no one would get cancer because the amount of radiation the X-ray scanners emit is minute. Having both technologies is important to create competition, he added.
“It’s a really, really small amount relative to the security benefit you’re going to get,” Kane said. “Keeping multiple technologies in play is very worthwhile for the U.S. in getting that cost-effective solution — and being able to increase the capabilities of technology because you keep everyone trying to get the better mousetrap.”
July 13th, 2011
After twice announcing that full-body pat downs would no longer apply to children under 12 years of age, John Pistole, Administrator of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has officially been exposed as a liar. Just last week, the TSA molested and terrorized a six-year-old boy en route to Disneyland with his parents, which caused the boy to cry and say to his parents that he no longer wanted to go on the trip.
Back in November, Pistole made an appearance on NBC’s TODAY Show in an attempt to quell outcry about the TSA’s invasive new procedures. At that time, he stated that the agency “heard the concerns that have been expressed and agree that children under 12 should not receive that pat down.”
After making this announcement, however, the TSA continued to grope young children anyway, including the infamous pat down of the eight-month-old baby at Kansas City International Airport.
Again in June, after being called upon by Congress to address the discrepancy between his statements and what was actually taking place, Pistole made another announcement concerning young children receiving pat downs — except this time he insinuated that they would, in fact, still be receiving them.
However, he added a quip that “repeated efforts” would be made to not necessarily have to use pat downs on young children, whatever that means. These statements were made before lawmakers in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
So after first announcing that pat downs would not apply to young children, Pistole continued to allow them to occur anyway. Then roughly eight months later, Pistole changed his story in response to further outcry, and claimed that young children would still be subjected to pat downs if they triggered “screening anomalies” or other “security concerns,” which represents a complete contradiction to his initial statements about pat downs.
Even Pistole’s most recent statements have been shown to be false, as an innocent young boy flying out of Washington’s SeaTac airport near Seattle was recently fondled by TSA agents after passing problem-free through the X-ray screening machine. Even though there were no “screening anomalies” or other “security concerns,” agents decided to target the young boy, and later claimed that they did so because he was carrying a harmless video game device.
“They just treated him like he’s a terrorist,” said the boy’s father, Alex Long, to KING 5 News in Seattle. “He’s a six-year-old boy.” The family has filed an official complaint against the agency for the gross violation.
Based on the false statements he twice made before lawmakers, and once in front of the entire world, concerning pat downs for children, Pistole can legitimately be charged for perjury and obstruction of justice, according to a recent InfoWars report. We can only hope that somebody actually will, and that justice will be served.
May 31st, 2011
By: Danielle Dellorto
Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.
Before its announcement Tuesday, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had been established.
A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
What that means is that right now there haven’t been enough long-term studies conducted to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones are safe, but there is enough data showing a possible connection that consumers should be alerted.
“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.
“What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones.”
The voices urging caution to consumers have gotten louder in recent years.
The European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. The head of a prominent cancer-research institute at the University of Pittsburgh sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use because of a possible risk of cancer.
“When you look at cancer development — particularly brain cancer — it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer,” said Dr. Henry Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has studied radiation for over 30 years.
Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer was released in 2010. It showed participants in the study who used a cell phones for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor. To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage among children.
“Childrens’ skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger.” said Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Manufacturers of many popular cell phones already warn consumers to keep their device away from their body.
The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says for users’ radiation exposure to not exceed FCC guidelines, “When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body.”
Blackberry Bold advises users to, “keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 in. (25 mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting.”
March 14th, 2011
By: Alison Young and Blake Morrison
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.
TSA officials have repeatedly assured the public and lawmakers that the machines have passed all inspections. The agency’s review of maintenance reports, launched Dec. 10, came only after USA TODAY and lawmakers called for the release of the records late last year.
The agency posted reports Friday from 127 X-ray-emitting devices on its website and said it would continue to release results from maintenance tests for the approximately 4,500 X-ray devices at airports nationwide. Those devices include machines that examine checked luggage. Of the reports posted, about a third showed some sort of error, Kimball said.
The TSA announced steps to require its maintenance contractors to “retrain personnel involved in conducting and overseeing the radiation survey process.”
Some lawmakers remain concerned, however.
The TSA “has repeatedly assured me that the machines that emit radiation do not pose a health risk,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a written statement Friday. “Nonetheless, if TSA contractors reporting on the radiation levels have done such a poor job, how can airline passengers and crew have confidence in the data used by the TSA to reassure the public?”
She said the records released Friday “included gross errors about radiation emissions. That is completely unacceptable when it comes to monitoring radiation.”
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz also was troubled by the information posted by the TSA. Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairs a House oversight subcommittee on national security and has sponsored legislation to limit the use of full-body scans. He has been pushing the TSA to release the maintenance records.
At best, Chaffetz said, the radiation reports generated by TSA contractors reveal haphazard oversight and record-keeping in the critical inspection system the agency relies upon to ensure millions of travelers aren’t subjected to excessive doses of radiation.
“It is totally unacceptable to be bumbling such critical tasks,” Chaffetz said. “These people are supposed to be protecting us against terrorists.”
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.
Chaffetz said the TSA’s characterization of the maintenance mistakes “sounds like an excuse rather than the real facts.”
“I’m tired of excuses,” Chaffetz said. “The public has a right and deserves to know. It begs the question, ‘What are they still not sharing with us?’ These are things you cannot make mistakes with.” Chaffetz said he expects to address some of his concerns during a hearing Wednesday.
The full-body scanners, called backscatter devices, are supposed to deliver only a tiny amount of radiation — about as much as an airplane passenger gets during two minutes of a typical flight.
Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University, said Friday he wanted to scrutinize the 2,000 pages of reports the TSA posted. He has expressed concerns about the potential for the scanners to break and the importance of proper maintenance and monitoring.
“Mechanical things break down,” Rez told USA TODAY in December. Rez also has voiced fears about the potential for a passenger to get an excessive dose of radiation or even a radiation burn if the X-ray scanning beam were to malfunction and stop on one part of a person’s body for an extended period of time.
He said Friday that the contractor mistakes TSA identified only heighten his concerns.
“What happens in times of failure, when they can give very, very high radiation doses. I’m totally unconvinced they have thought that through,” Rez said of the TSA. “I just see a large, bumbling bureaucracy. Of course it’s not very reassuring.”
The TSA’s Kimball disputed such characterizations.
“Numerous independent tests have confirmed that these technologies are safe, but these record-keeping errors are not acceptable,” he said. For instance, “the testing procedure calls for the technician to take 10 separate scans” for radiation levels, “add them up and then divide by 10 to take an average. They didn’t divide by 10,” Kimball said.
“We’re taking a number of steps to ensure the mistakes aren’t repeated,” he said, “and the public will be able to see for themselves by reviewing all future reports online.”
The TSA is responsible for the safety of its own X-ray devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it does not routinely inspect airport X-ray machines because they are not considered medical devices. The TSA’s airport scanners are exempt from state radiation inspections because they belong to a federal agency.
Some of the records were written by employees of the machines’ maker: Rapiscan Systems. In a written statement, the company’s executive vice president, Peter Kant, said, “The mistakes were the result of calculating and procedural errors that were identified by Rapiscan management and have been corrected. In actuality, the systems in these airports have always been well below acceptable exposure limits.”
Rapiscan Systems said in a Dec. 15 letter to the TSA that company engineers who tested the backscatter machines were confused by inspection forms and instructions, leading them to make mistakes on the forms that vastly inflated the radiation emitted by the machines.
Rapiscan vowed to redesign its inspection forms and retrain its engineers.
The TSA released inspection reports from 40 backscatter machines, and reports for 19 of those machines had errors, including six that were deemed “considerable.”
In a written statement sent to USA TODAY, TSA Administrator John Pistole said the equipment is safe.
“Independent third-party testing has confirmed that all TSA technology is safe,” Pistole said. “We are also taking additional steps to build on existing safety measures in an open and transparent way, including commissioning an additional independent entity to evaluate these protocols.”
December 22nd, 2010
By: Andrew Schneider
If you believe the government, you have little to worry about from the radiation beam flitting over the front and back of your body in airport watchdogs’ search for explosives and other hidden implements of terror this holiday season.
The Transportation Security Administration says that when working properly, the backscatter Advance Imaging Technology X-ray scanners emit an infinitesimal, virtually harmless amount of radiation.
The problem is that the TSA offers no proof that anyone is checking to see if the machines are “working properly.”
The TSA ticks off a litany of groups that it says are involved with determining and ensuring the safety of the controversial devices, including:
- The Food and Drug Administration
- The U.S. Army Public Health Command
- Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
- The Health Physics Society
However, AOL News has found that those organizations say they have no responsibility for the continuing safety of the alternative to TSA’s grope.
Further, the Homeland Security agency refuses to release exposure data to top non-TSA safety experts eager to evaluate any risk.
Homeland Security has said the justification for head-to-toe scanning was provided last Christmas, when Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried and failed to ignite a bomb hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
But the questioning of the TSA’s “working properly” assurances becomes even more significant with the numerous reports this year that its screeners sometimes missed as many as seven out of 10 guns, knives and mock explosive devices that government testers tried to sneak through airport check points.
Why Worry About Exposure to Scanners?
People are subjected to hundreds of millions of diagnostic X-rays every year, virtually all without incident. So why all the angst over the TSA’s scanners, which, when working properly, emit far lower doses of radiation?
To assure that the doses are as low as they are billed to be, it is imperative to accurately calibrate the machines and carefully monitor their performance.
A spike in the intensity of the scanning beam, or a slowdown or pause in the timing of that beam’s sweep across a traveler’s body, could cause significant radiation damage, AOL News was told by a radiologist and two radiological health physicists, who are trained and certified to ensure the safety of those exposed to or working with radioactive material.
The FDA and many state radiation safety offices license, inspect and monitor almost all medical radiation devices everywhere they’re used. But even identical X-ray machines used in nonmedical government venues fall outside FDA scrutiny, the agency said last week.
Nevertheless, the TSA maintains that when it comes to the safety of the full-body scanners, “everything is working fine,” an agency spokesman told AOL News.
“The safety of our scanning systems are routinely and thoroughly tested by the manufacturer, FDA, the U.S. Army, the Health Physics Society, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and others,” the spokesman said when asked last month how the TSA knows if the scanning system is safe.
The TSA does do some of its own inspections of the scanners, Sarah Horowitz, another TSA press officer, explained.
“Preventive maintenance checks, including radiation safety surveys, are performed at least once every 12 months,” she said.
It sounds reassuring when the TSA lists the organizations as the guardians of the safety of the public passing between the two radiation-emitting walls of the scanners.
But in interviews with those same safety sentinels, AOL News found that none of the groups was doing any routine testing of operating scanners in airports. Further, they all said they have no responsibility to monitor the safety of those passing through the airport scanners.
For example, the FDA says it doesn’t do routine inspections of any nonmedical X-ray unit, including the ones operated by the TSA.
The FDA has not field-tested these scanners and hasn’t inspected the manufacturer. It has no legal authority to require owners of these devices — in this case, TSA — to provide access for routine testing on these products once they have been sold, FDA press officer said Karen Riley said.
December 21st, 2010
By: Ethan A. Huff
Getting through the airport security line with dangerous weapons is far easier than most people might think, according to a recent ABC News report. Undercover government agents testing the effectiveness of common U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security protocols found that the majority of the time, TSA agents completely missed obvious weaponry like bombs and loaded handguns stowed in luggage.
In the case of Farid Seif, an Iranian-American businessman who travels frequently out of Houston Airport, agents failed to identify a loaded Glock pistol in Seif’s bag that he allegedly forgot had been left inside. After he arrived at his destination, Seif was shocked to find that he has made it through the screening process and onto the airplane with a loaded handgun, and immediately let airport security officials know about the security failure.
And according to the same ABC News report, Seif’s case is hardly isolated. Undercover agents who conducted a test at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2006 found that they were able to get concealed bombs through the screening system more than 90 percent of the time. And similar outcomes have occurred at various other airports as well, including Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has refused to release any more specific data about the checkpoint breaches, but insists they highlight the need for increased security measures. However, some say that the release of this new information is nothing more than propaganda to defend the invasive new enhanced pat-downs and back-scatter X-ray protocols that have received much flack in recent weeks for violating personal and civil liberties.