Paul Joseph Watson
June 28, 2011
Fearful of provoking further public resistance to naked airport body scanners, the TSA has been caught covering up a surge in cases of TSA workers developing cancer as a result of their close proximity to radiation-firing devices, perhaps the most shocking revelation to emerge from the latest FOIA documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
After Union representatives in Boston discovered a “cancer cluster” amongst TSA workers linked with radiation from the body scanners, the TSA sought to downplay the matter and refused to issue employees with dosimeters to measure levels of exposure.
The documents indicate how, “A large number of workers have been falling victim to cancer, strokes and heart disease.”
“The Department, rather than acting on it, or explaining its position seems to have just dismissed. I don’t think that’s the way most other agencies would have acted in a similar situation if they were confronted with that question,” EPIC’s Marc Rotenberg said.
In an email sent to Heather Callahan (PDF), deputy federal security director at Boston Logan International Airport, union representatives express their concern about “TSA Boston’s growing number of TSOs working here that have thus far been diagnosed with cancer.”
Of course, if TSA workers who are merely standing near the scanners are already developing cancer, frequent flyers are also putting themselves in harm’s way by standing directly inside the radiation-firing machines.
As we reported yesterday, newly released internal government documents, obtained via the Freedom Of Information Act by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, reveal that the TSA, and specifically the head of the Department of Homeland Security, “publicly mischaracterized” the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in stating that NIST had positively confirmed the safety of full body scanners in tests.
In erroneously citing both NIST and the Johns Hopkins school of medicine to claim that the body scanners are safe, the TSA has also deliberately misled the public on the dangers posed by the devices.
Documents obtained by EPIC show that, far from affirming their safety, NIST warned that airport screeners should avoid standing next to full body scanners in order to keep exposure to harmful radiation “as low as reasonably achievable.”
Further documents illustrate how a Johns Hopkins study actually revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit,” contradicting repeated claims by the TSA that Johns Hopkins had validated the safety of the devices.
At the time we pointed out that Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at the Johns Hopkins school of medicine had publicly stated two days previously that “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays”.
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TSA workers complained about the radiation dangers of the scanners back in December, saying they were being kept in the dark by their employers, despite repeated requests for information.
“We don’t think the agency is sharing enough information,” said Milly Rodriguez, occupational health and safety specialist at the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents TSA workers.
A study conducted last year by Dr David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s center for radiological research, found that the body scanners are likely to lead to an increase in a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma, which affects the head and neck.
Following the study, Brenner urged medical authorities to look at his work, pointing to the dangerous notion of mass scanning millions of people without proper oversight.
“There really is no other technology around where we’re planning to X-ray such an enormous number of individuals. It’s really unprecedented in the radiation world,” said Brenner.
Similar concerns to those explored in the Columbia University study were voiced in February 2010 by the influential Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, who warned in a report that the scanners increase the risk of cancer and birth defects and should not be used on pregnant women or children.
Despite governments claiming that backscatter x-ray systems produce radiation too low to pose a threat, the organization concluded in their report that governments must justify the use of the scanners and that a more accurate assessment of the health risks is needed.
Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, according to the report, adding that governments should consider “other techniques to achieve the same end without the use of ionizing radiation.”
“The Committee cited the IAEA’s 1996 Basic Safety Standards agreement, drafted over three decades, that protects people from radiation. Frequent exposure to low doses of radiation can lead to cancer and birth defects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” reported Bloomberg.
In a recent letter to President Obama’s Science Advisor, several University of California professors also complained of how, “There is still no rigorous, hard, data for the safety of x-ray airport passenger scanners.” The scientists noted how the safety tests for the scanners were carried out exclusively by manufacturers, and recommended an immediate moratorium on use of the devices until the health risks can be independently studied.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.