Monday, January 30, 2012
Law enforcement efforts are supposed to serve and protect the public, but what happens when the methods used actually harm innocent members of the public? As AllGov reported last November, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has greatly increased the use of full body x-ray scanning machines at airports and other locations, even as critics point out how even low
levels of radiation can cause cancer and other serious health problems. In fact, TSA agreed late last year to conduct a new study of the health effects of x-ray body scanners like the 250 used in U.S. airports, and the European Parliament in July 2011 passed a resolution in favor of banning the machines.
Nevertheless, law enforcement agencies are continuing to expand their use of x-ray scanners, including machines that expose people to as much as 50 times more radiation than an airport scanner, and are sometimes using them on people without their knowledge or consent. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently installing 35 drive-through X-ray gates to scan vehicles at the border with their passengers still inside; New York City has used specially equipped vans to scan vehicles for drugs or weapons; and prisons have started using x-rays that can see through the body to detect contraband hidden inside the bodies of prisoners…and jail employees.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the medical use of x-ray machines, has no jurisdiction over their non-medical use, and hence has done nothing about the use of x-ray scanners by law enforcement.
Drive-by Scanning: Officials Expand Use and Dose of Radiation for Security Screening (by Michael Grabell, ProPublica)
Why is U.S. Using X-Ray Security Scanners Europe Rejects as Unsafe? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
TSA to Conduct New Study of X-Ray Body Scanners (by Michael Grabell, ProPublica)
Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation (Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, National Research Council)