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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Action Item: Protect Our Protectors - TSA screeners deserve radiation monitoring NOW!

Having just flown out of Washington Dulles Airport, I was stunned to see the TSA personnel manning the whole body X-ray scanners not wearing radiation dosimeters. Having worked in research labs with nuclear isotopes and in many hospitals, I know that each institution REQUIRES staff who have exposure to non-background radiation to wear radiation dosimeters. It's ridiculous not to - if you care about your staff. Dosimeters are cheap (less than $50), can be easily worn as a badge, and are easy to administer ($69 for the whole year from this vendor).

Although a dosimeter does not itself protect against the cancer risks of radiation, which are well documented, it can notify you if your cumulative dose is reaching dangerous levels, something you wouldn't be able to know or feel otherwise. 

I asked my screener whether she was offered a dosimeter, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I got the very a uncomfortable feeling that this young female was not properly educated on the potential risks of cumulative doses of radiation. It is well documented that radiation is more dangerous to females and the young

Although articles from January 2012 state that the TSA is intending to buy dosimeters, it is now many months later, and our TSA screeners are still without the most basic radiation safeguard that every other institution requires of its staff. This is dangerous, unacceptable, and unfair. The only excuse I was able to find was the TSA reply that the amount of radiation from a single body scan is minuscule. No radiation expert would deny the fact that even minuscule doses of ionizing radiation can have a cumulative dangerous effect when multiplied by hundreds of exposures per day times day after day times thousands of exposed staff. 

It is time for the scientific community and concerned citizens to voice their outrage. TSA workers deserve the same protections and safeguards afforded to radiation workers in all other industries. Otherwise, what is TSA trying to hide?

Sign the petition to tell the TSA to act now to help prevent radiation induced cancer in its staff.

Click HERE, to sign the petition.
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