Went Through @TSA ‘s Body Scanner While Pregnant? The Radiation Reached Your Uterus

The TSA has been as steadfast about their nude body scanners being safe as the Obama administration has been that “we don’t have a domestic spying program.” The TSA, in fact, has been so “confident” in their scanners’ safety that they have proclaimed them safe even for infants and pregnant women:

Advanced imaging technology screening is safe for passengers, including pregnant women and children. One backscatter technology scan produces the same exposure as approximately two minutes of flying on an airplane. Advanced imaging technology is optional for all passengers.

Nude Body Scanner Dose to BabiesHowever, the TSA’s assertion is about as true as the Obama administration’s statements on NSA spying. While reading through the administrative record for my lawsuit, the last remaining challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the constitutionality of the nude body scanners, I came across a table, produced by the FDA at the TSA’s request, showing that children are dosed at more than 1.5x the rate of adults, an infant in your arms gets more than 2x the dose, and your unborn child still receives almost 50% of the radiation that you receive.

This study, produced in 2006 by government scientist Dr. Frank Cerra, was available to the TSA three years before they deployed the body scanners as primary screening, and four years before TSA spokeshole Blogger Bob wrote the passage quoted above. But yet, these records, though released to me as “public records,” are really nowhere to be found for an interested member of the public. I will be publishing the ~1,600 pages of administrative record I received shortly (or as much so as I am allowed to by the Court), but this is, yet again, a systemic culture of hiding the facts. Perhaps the radiation dose received by your unborn baby is not high enough to worry about, but don’t you have the right to know about it in advance?

6 thoughts on “Went Through @TSA ‘s Body Scanner While Pregnant? The Radiation Reached Your Uterus

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  1. Victory! Federal Court Recognizes Constitutional Rights of Americans on the No-Fly List:

    A federal court took a critically important step late yesterday towards placing a check on the government’s secretive No-Fly List. In a 38-page ruling (https://www.aclu.org/national-security/latif-et-al-v-holder-et-al-opinion-and-order) in Latif v. Holder, the ACLU’s challenge to the No-Fly List, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown recognized that the Constitution applies when the government bans Americans from the skies. She also asked for more information about the current process for getting off the list, to inform her decision on whether that procedure violates the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process.

  2. I’m somewhat confused, and the scanned page doesn’t provide enough context to fix my confusion; is the scanner mentioned in that page the X-ray backscatter scanner, or the microwave scanner?

  3. Hi there. There is no argument against these X-ray backscatter scanners on grounds of safety – the dose you get from the scanner is less than 1/100th of the dose you get during the subsequent plane flight, just from being at altitude, where there is less air to screen out cosmic rays! If your plane has to make an extra loop in a holding pattern before landing, that’s the same radiation exposure as you get from the scan – The dose provided by the scanner is equal to the natural background radiation you are exposed to by standing in the queue for 15 minutes (!) It genuinely is negligible.

    It’s nonsense to claim that there is a danger from being asked to use these scanners. The argument against them is that they invade privacy – but it’s factually wrong to claim these things are causing dangerous radiation exposure.

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