12/30/10 Update: Read the original Letter of Concern in its entirety at the end of this post.
I qualify my post by stating up front that my background is business and politics… not biology and x-ray imaging. I am sharing this Letter of Concern because its authors appear to carry credibility in the field and share what appear to be warranted and serious concerns about the rapid implementation of the airport security X-ray scanners.
President Obama and his bureaucratic minions have given us a whole new definition of national security: random, politically correct, and legally decreed molestation and pornification of Americans through airport security screenings. It’s a new level of “national security” that is an embarrassing atrocity to everything we stand for.
All that aside… did you ever consider the health risks of submitting to the X-ray option? Four University of California San Fransisco faculty have considered the risks, and have written A Letter of Concern dated April 6, 2010.
- Dr. John Sedat, Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF
- Dr. Marc Shuman, International cancer expert and UCSF Professor
- Dr. David Agard, UCSF Professor, X-ray crystallographer, imaging expert and NAS member
- Dr. Robert Stroud, UCSF Professor, X-ray crystallographer, imaging expert and NAS member
“We are writing to call your attention to serious concerns about the potential serious health risks of the recently adopted whole body back scatter X-ray airport security scanners.”
“An important consideration is that a large fraction of the population will be subject to the new X-Ray scanners and be at potential risk. This raises a number of ‘red flags.’ “
High Dose Energy
“…these new airport scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight/vol, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high.”
The Red Flags
UCSF dermatologists and cancer experts raise 8 specific health concerns, 3 of them summarized here:
- Travelers older than 65 are at particular risk from the “mutagenic effects of the X-rays.”
- “A fraction of the female population is especially sensitive to mutagenesis-provoking radiation leading to breast cancer.”
- Testicles are “at risk for sperm mutagenesis.”
Risks from the X-Ray Hardware
“Because this device can scan a human in a few seconds, the X-ray beam is very intense. Any glitch in power at any point in the hardware (or more importantly in the software) that stops the device could cause an intense radiation dose to a single spot on the skin.”
“The TSA is already complaining about resolution limitations; who will keep the manufacturers and/or TSA from just raising the dose, an easy way to improve the signal-to-noise and get higher resolution?”
“Lastly… how do we know whether the manufacturer or TSA, seeking higher resolution, will scan the groin area more slowly leading to a much higher total dose?”
Concerns Put into Perspective
“We have witnessed critical errors in decisions that have seriously affected the health of thousands of people in the United States. These unfortunate errors were made because of the failure to recognize potential adverse outcomes of decisions made at the federal level. Crises create a sense of urgency that frequently leads to hasty decisions where unintended consequences are not recognized.”
“There has not been sufficient review of the intermediate and long-term effects of radiation exposure associated with airport scanners. There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations.”
“These negative effects may on balance far outweigh the potential benefit of increased detection of terrorists.”
The Entire Letter of Concern
Read the Letter of Concern in its entirety here. Click on the far top-right icon to open in a new window for readability: