Here we go again... a "independent study" of the nude-o-scopes generates headlines all over by claiming that the nude-o-scopes are safe, yet it turns out that this "independent study" is also based upon data published by the TSA:
Los Angeles Times:
TSA full-body scanners at airports pose little risk, study finds
Radiation levels from full-body scanners used by the TSA at airports are considerably lower than those of other X-ray procedures such as mammograms, a study to be published in Medical Physics finds.
June 10, 2012, 11:10 p.m. (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-travel-briefcase-20120611,0,7737889.story)
A short quote:
The study by the Marquette University College of Engineering concluded that radiation from so-called backscatter scanners passes beyond a passenger's skin to reach 29 organs — including the heart and brain.
That is a very interesting result.
But the radiation levels are considerably lower than those of other X-ray procedures such as mammograms, the study said.
Frequent flyers will find that to be a helpful comparison, once mammograms start being given twice a week...
The author of the Marquette study, assistant professor of biomedical engineering Taly Gilat Schmidt, did not test the actual machines. Instead, she based her conclusions on scanner radiation data released publicly by the TSA. (emphasis added) She ran the numbers through simulation software that modeled how X-ray photons travel through a body.
This is another really interesting result: the professor's modeling indicates that radiation from the scanner does actually reach 29 internal organs.
Now, I personally believe that a truly independent study would show that the scanners can and do exceed the dosages TSA claims they put out. I also personally believe that TSA's Administrator knows the dosages can be higher than claimed. I suspect that is why he ceased purchasing both types of nude-o-scopes and is also why he has rushed out the trusted flyer program, so that frequent flyers can be sent around the machines.
Finally, for the record, the professor who did the study is not a medical doctor. According to the listing for Taly Gilat-Schmidt, Ph.D. on the Marquette University's Biomedical Engineering Faculty website (http://www.marquette.edu/eng/biomedical/facstaff_gilat-schmidt.shtml), her degrees are in Electrical Engineering.
Jun 11, 12, 7:42 pm
A quote from CNN:
"...John Sedat, a University of California, San Francisco, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, is against the TSA's use of backscatter technology. He criticized the Marquette report, saying it was based on TSA data instead of independent testing of machines.
"It's a valid criticism," responded Gilat-Schmidt. "I think that's valid, and we put that criticism (in the paper). But that's how research is. It's not the whole enchilada. It's one step; not the whole step."
"I think it's very important to have independent studies," she said.
Gilat-Schmidt said that she goes through backscatter X-ray machines, but "I don't feel comfortable putting my kids through them..."
I find the use of confusing and difficult technical jargon is often used to obfuscate the results of scientific studies. "It's not the whole enchilada" does not exactly meet that criteria.
Jun 11, 12, 10:29 pm
It's not science, it's simply a check on on previously (possibly errant) data. Science inherently requires data to be independently reproducible.
Jun 12, 12, 2:06 am
Looks like the university news release states that the findings show that the NoS penetrates the skin. It reads like the LATimes took to loosely calling it an "independent study."
I've yet to read a study that gives an actual measured ionizing radiation figure. Common readout units are milliroentgens and roentgen per hour, but I've yet to see any study deliver those numbers.
Jun 12, 12, 3:23 am
Colleges will do literally anything for grant money. The tragedy is that all of this professor's students will believe they did a valid research project.
Some like EPIC should FOIA to determine the particulars of the grant.
Jun 12, 12, 6:29 am
I subscribe to the Travel Insider (http://blog.thetravelinsider.info/), a travel blog. He's as opposed to the extreme and ridiculous aspects of airport security as I am. He's made some interesting comments about this study:
New Study – TSA Xray Scanners are Safe. Or Maybe Not. (http://blog.thetravelinsider.info/2012/06/new-study-tsa-xray-scanners-are-safe-or-maybe-not.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fthetravelinsider+%2 8The+Travel+Insider+Blog%29)
...In fact, some of us might feel that this study – rather than supporting its claim that X-ray scanners are safe – actually goes a long way towards showing quite the opposite...
...And while the study suggests the level of radiation is ‘safe’ and lower than what you’d get from eg a mammogram, the study also suggests that the level of radiation is one third that of the maximum recommended, which is a great deal higher than has been previously claimed by the TSA.
Now think about this. How many times a year do you get a mammogram (in the case of most men, never!). But how many times a year might a frequent flier be irradiated at an airport?
This ‘study’ does nothing whatsoever to advance the overall independent understanding of the risks inherent in these machines.
And who cares if the machines are safe or not. The fact inescapably remains that safe or not, they are also useless and ineffective in finding hidden objects artfully concealed on people going through them. So while a debate on the safety of the machines is important, surely the more pressing matter is they just don’t work.
Jun 12, 12, 9:11 am
The study by the Marquette University College of Engineering concluded that radiation from so-called backscatter scanners passes beyond a passenger's skin to reach 29 organs — including the heart and brain. But the radiation levels are considerably lower than those of otherX-ray procedures such as mammograms, the study said.Ok, so then this is a good type of radiation, right? :rolleyes:
The author of the Marquette study, assistant professor of biomedical engineering Taly Gilat Schmidt, did not test the actual machines. Instead, she based her conclusions on scanner radiation data released publicly by the TSA. She ran the numbers through simulation software that modeled how X-ray photons travel through a body.Didn't actually test the machines and relied on data released by the TSA? Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? :rolleyes:
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned the Marquette study because it was based on data provided by the TSA.
"We do not truly know the risk of this radiation exposure over multiple screenings, for frequent fliers, those in vulnerable groups, or TSA's own employees operating the machines," she said in a statement.Note to the author-Senator Collins is wise and you're a dolt!
Gilat Schmidt said the results of her test suggest that the risk to passengers is negligible even for children, frequent fliers and pilots.......Gilat-Schmidt said that she goes through backscatter X-ray machines, but "I don't feel comfortable putting my kids through them..."So other peoples' kids but not yours? Again, I say-you are a dolt!
Jun 12, 12, 11:02 am
The Medical Physics journal must have low publication standards, and the LA Times needs to replace one writer and at least one editor. "Independent" study indeed!
Jun 12, 12, 5:19 pm
Here's a link to the Marquette University press release:
University News Center:
Marquette University study shows radiation from airport scanners extends into organs; still lower than health standards
June 11, 2012 (http://www.marquette.edu/omc/newscenter/recent.php?misc=search&subaction=showfull&id=1339424629&archive=&cnshow=news&ucat=11&start_from=&)
Here's a short quote of an interesting paragraph:
The study estimates the radiation exposure to 29 organs – including skin, eye lens, heart and the brain – using complex mathematical models that more accurately represent the shape and tissue density of human bodies and organs. By comparison, previous studies funded through the Transportation Security Administration used more simplified, generic mathematical models. The Marquette study used four models: a 34-year old male, a 26-year-old female, an 11-year old female and a 6-year-old male. While radiation is deposited beyond the skin, the study concludes radiation doses in organs for all four models is below recommended standards and considerably lower than radiation levels of other x-ray procedures, such as a mammogram.
I suspect that most of us FTers are considerably older than the ages used in the models! :(
Jun 13, 12, 3:58 am
Health standards are for radiation used medically, associated with a medical benefit (usually diagnostic). There is no acceptable level of radiation for a general population to be submitted to without a health benefit.
Jun 17, 12, 10:07 am
Here is her updated statement:
"Our study on backscatter airport scanners did not quantify the risk of the scanners nor did it draw any conclusions about risk..."
And on Christopher Elliott's site:
"In a follow-up email sent to me, the study’s author, Taly Gilat-Schmidt, said the LA Times “did not accurately represent my statements about our research.”
“I was very clear with the reporter that I could not draw any conclusions about risk from my work,” the professor added. “But of course, a quote was taken out of context and turned into a very misleading headline.”
Jun 17, 12, 10:22 am
Here is her updated statement...
And on Christopher Elliott's site...
Thanks for posting these. ^
Jun 17, 12, 12:56 pm
Arg!! I just noticed my local paper printed a very condensed version of the LA Times piece. To top it off they showed a man getting a MMW scan.
Though it's not likely to end the debate over the safety of full-body scanners, a new study has found that the scanners used for security screening at the nation's airports do not expose passengers to dangerous levels of radiation. The analysis by the Marquette University College of Engineering concluded that radiation levels from so-called backscatter scanners are considerably lower than those of other X-ray procedures such as mammograms. The findings will be published in Medical Physics, an international journal.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Jun 18, 12, 7:08 pm
It's sure that things are interesting now. However, now you will learn what the Obama's have planned for us travelers. To offest any radiation that we are exposed to, Obama intends to have eat a fresh carrot while we are scanned by the nude-o-scopes! As we all know, fresh vegetables are good for us. I, for one, am finally proud to live in America! Thanks TSA!
Jun 25, 12, 2:30 pm
Study authors Taly Gilat Schmidt & Michael Hoppe wrote a letter to the LA Times:
Letter published in LA Times: TSA scanners and safety
by Taly Gilat Schmidt and Michael Hoppe
June 24, 2012 (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0624-sunday-tsa-scanners-20120624,0,1984380.story)