"There's no use depending on TSA 'research' that denies or minimizes the
risk because those results have been bought and paid for." ~ David J, Brenner, Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research
Pilots have a sort of sixth sense about things. Maybe they have to because many otherwise fatal accidents have been avoided by a pilot that felt something "just wasn't right."
Perhaps that's why so many pilots rebelled against the idea of having to pass through the TSA's new full body back scanner X-ray machines when they were rolled out at some of the nation's largest airports. The pilots just felt something wasn't quite right.
Now it seems their sixth sense was working overtime, because something isn't right with the scanners. Nor is something right with a major government agency--tasked with protecting American citizens--that has failed in its duty to inform the citizens of the radiation the new security technology exposes them to, and places many Americans in a no-win situation that may be more dangerous to frequent fliers than the ongoing terror threat posed by Islamic fundamentalist radicals.
A group of well-informed experts originally voiced their concern about the scanners in a latter to the Obama administration dated April 2010. In the letter addressed to John Holdren, the president's science and technology adviser, experts in radiation biology, biophysics, and imaging technologies raised serious concerns about the dangerously high exposure the machines subjected flight crews and passengers to every time they passed through one.
Radiation damages the DNA
The University of California at San Francisco scientists and professors know that radiation increases the risk of cancer each time a person is exposed to it. Radiation damages the DNA replication process and certain parts of the human cell structure. Free radicals do most of the damage, and they're released by exposure to radioactive fields or substances.
The radioactive poisoning can occur two ways: one extremely high dose that causes illness or death soon after exposure, or long term frequent exposure. The TSA back scanners fall into the latter category.
Research into radiation's affect on animal tissue has shown that contrary to popular belief, high penetration radioactivity--such as that emitted by nuclear reactors that produce an array of radioactive particles--is no more deadly than repetitious exposure to radiation that barely penetrates the skin.
According to independent medical and radiation experts that have studied the back scatter scanners now in use, most of the radiation emitted by the machines is focused on the surface of the skin and penetrates several millimeters into the skin.
While the federal government is downplaying any significant health effects, those pilots just knew something wasn't right.
Maybe those pilots should have become medical doctors, because their intuition was right on the mark: extremely sensitive tissues and body parts are right at or under the surface of the skin. What is at risk from the radiation exposure are the male testes. the blood in capillaries right under the skin's surface, the inner ear canals and of course the eyes.
Also, people have a tendency to forget, but the skin is a human's biggest organ and so susceptible to radiation damage even exposure to the sun can cause cancer, let alone a machine that is specifically designed to spray a person with a radioactive shower.
David J. Brenner, an expert on the effects of radiation stated that it's quite likely the TSA scanners will cause cancer in some individuals.
Brenner, whose Columbia's Center for Radiological Research work focuses on radiation's effects on biological processes, low exposure risk evaluation and radio-isotopic therapy, responded to a reporters question.