A suspected radiation leak from a security checkpoint at a Hawaii airport not only reignited legitimate fears about the controversial body scanners – it also revealed more ignorance about TSA’s photo policies.
Eleven Transportation Security Administration workers fell ill Thursday after they were exposed to mysterious fumes emitting from a body scanner.
As a HAZMAT team arrived to inspect for radiation, the TSA workers were treated by paramedics, then urged to go to the hospital for further tests.
Meanwhile, an employee of Lihu’e Airport snapped photos of the HAZMAT team conducting their investigation, sending them to The Garden Island newspaper.
The employee told the newspaper that TSA workers regularly forbid passengers from taking photos at the checkpoints.
The worker who spoke with The Garden Island said TSA staff always tells travelers to put down their cameras, prohibiting them from taking pictures at the airport.
“It makes you wonder what kind of stuff is going on there,” he said.
And a state Department of Transportation spokesman told the newspaper that passengers are not allowed to photograph the checkpoints.
Meisenzahl said travelers are allowed to take pictures at the airport, but not of TSA equipment and checkpoints, per TSA policy.
But he is wrong.
The TSA has always stated that photography and video recording of checkpoints is legal. TSA asks passengers not to photograph the monitors, but even then, there is no explicit rule forbidding it.
The HAZMAT inspection at Lihu’e Airport found no radiation, according to the article.
However, a ProPublica investigation that was published Saturday reveals some very scary information about the body scanners and radiation.
Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines. Still, the TSA has repeatedly defined the scanners as “safe,” glossing over the accepted scientific view that even low doses of ionizing radiation — the kind beamed directly at the body by the X-ray scanners — increase the risk of cancer.
“Even though it’s a very small risk, when you expose that number of people, there’s a potential for some of them to get cancer,” said Kathleen Kaufman, the former radiation management director in Los Angeles County, who brought the prison X-rays to the FDA panel’s attention.