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TSA to Retest Body Scanner Radiation Levels

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USA Today reports that the TSA will begin testing all 247 of its currently deployed full-body scanners after maintenance reports revealed radiation levels were 10 times higher than previously thought.

The TSA attributed the discrepancies to “math mistakes” and said the machines are all perfectly safe. USA Today adds, “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.”

A TSA spokesperson said the retesting is being done out of an “abundance of caution to reassure the public.” The results will be released as they are finished.

The errors sparked widespread criticism of an agency already besieged by skeptics. Maine Senator Susan Collins said in a statement, “TSA has repeatedly assured me that the machines that emit radiation do not pose a health risk.  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?  More than one in four reports—randomly selected from thousands of reports over two years and covering 15 airports—included gross errors about radiation emissions. That is completely unacceptable when it comes to monitoring radiation.”

But in a written statement sent to USA Today, TSA chief John Pistole reiterated that the equipment poses no health risk. “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.”

Readers, even if there is no safety concern, how do you feel about the TSA getting its numbers wrong?

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