[ RadSafe ] Airport X-Ray scanners

Kenneth Marshall kenneth.marshall at carestream.com
Thu Dec 2 13:24:28 CST 2010

Clayton J Bradt wrote:

> In effect TSA is self-regulated when it comes to the application of 
radiation to humans. 

I have witnessed the level of safety first hand at a undisclosed gov't 
site that uses RPE.
My experience:

Very little control - No signs of an ALARA program -  persons walking 
around operating units without regard for keeping away from beam path - 
The "manufacturer" told them they don't need to keep away
Very few or no documents regarding equipment output & use
No dosimeters for any employees
No "notice to employees" posting of any kind
No records of surveys or training records  (but assuredly its safe)
Someone produced a survey meter - but it wasn't calibrated and didn't know 
how to use it.
Supervisor said union didn't want workers categorized as radiation 
workers, cause they would ask for more money
Luckily the most heavily used equipment I observed on site were the 
vending machines and  multiple television sets around the facility which 
had very little radiation output.

In my humble opinion, I think one miscarriage from a TSA employee that 
doesn't have a dosiemter to prove or disprove what the exposure was (or 
wasn't) would be a big lawsuit in the making.

Kenneth Marshall, RRPT
Radiation & Laser Safety Officer
Kenneth.marshall at carestreamhealth.com
Office 585.627.8523

From:   Clayton J Bradt <CJB01 at health.state.ny.us>
To:     EMERDF at nv.doe.gov
Cc:     radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Date:   12/02/2010 02:02 PM
Subject:        Re: [ RadSafe ] Airport X-Ray scanners
Sent by:        radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu

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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