[ RadSafe ] Airport X-Ray scanners

Clayton J Bradt CJB01 at health.state.ny.us
Fri Dec 3 13:44:56 CST 2010

"Exclusive federal jurisdiction" is an NRC-made-up concept that applies 
only to the regulation of radioactive materials. The only sure-fire way to 
tell whether an area is under exclusive federal jurisdiction is to shoot 
somebody and see who arrests you. Short of this, I don't know of anyone 
who can actually tell a priori what the designation means except in the 
most clear cut cases: e.g. if your on a US Navy ship in mid-ocean your 
under exclusive federal jurisdiction.  On a military base? -probably. In a 
VA Hospital? - I think so.  Whether the TSA security area of a municipal 
airport is under exclusive federal jurisdiction is a question that lawyers 
would have to determine in court.  I don't believe that this has ever been 
done. In any event it wouldn't have any bearing on the regulation of the 
use of x-ray equipment. The Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause of 
the US Constitution are what determine who can regulate the TSA's 
activities whatever they are and wherever they occur. Unless congress 
expressly allows states to regulate TSA, they can't do so.  As far as I 
know congress has been silent on this issue. If it were otherwise, TSA's 
current use of these scanners at JFK and LaGuardia would be strictly 
illegal under New York's Public Health Law. In this state, the application 
of ionizing radiation to humans can only be conducted for medical purposes 
by licensed medical professionals - period. 

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


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