[ RadSafe ] Airport X-Ray scanners

Clayton J Bradt CJB01 at health.state.ny.us
Thu Dec 2 13:01:29 CST 2010

Dudley Emer wrote:

>Considering no one can figure out what kind of dose we're actually
>getting I guess the next set of questions would be: 
>Who is licensed to use and operate these machines? 
>Do the operators possess a Limited X-Ray License or any form of
>Just what are the licensure requirements?
>Are the x-ray units registered and operated in compliance with the state
>in which they are used. 
>Who does the annual (?) safety inspections? 
>Where are the manufacturer's specifications published?
>For regulatory purposes how are these classified - medical, industrial,
>Under what regulation is it permissible to drive around in a backscatter
>van and randomly X-ray everyone and anything?

>None of this is passing my giggle test.

>Dudley Emer

All very good questions. The answer is that NOBODY licenses, or registers 
the units themselves or the users of these scanners.  The regulation of 
the use of x-rays is ordinarily the responsibility of the states. FDA 
regulates the manufacturers of the equipment but the installation and use 
of all such equipment is under state authority.  The problem is that TSA 
is a federal agency. As such it is immune from regulation by the states. 
Another federal agency could regulate TSA, but no federal agency has been 
given authority to do so.  In effect TSA is self-regulated when it comes 
to the application of radiation to humans.  But, don't worry. They are 
only trying to protect us.

Clayton J. Bradt
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Health
Biggs Laboratory, Room D486A
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12201-0509


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