TSA more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

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Old Nov 16, 10, 11:52 pm
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TSA more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

If 1 in 30 million per single scan is accurate, it looks like people are more likely to be killed by the TSA than a terrorist. Pathetic.

"Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, did his own calculations and found the exposure to be about one-fiftieth to one-hundredth the amount of a standard chest X-ray. He calculated the risk of getting cancer from a single scan at about 1 in 30 million, "which puts it somewhat less than being killed by being struck by lightning in any one year," he told me."

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news...anners-harmful
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Old Nov 17, 10, 2:02 am
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Originally Posted by boiflyer View Post
He calculated the risk of getting cancer from a single scan at about 1 in 30 million
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics there were 809,611,003 passengers in 2008. That means that 27 people each year will contract cancer as a result of the Nude-o-scopes.

Of course some of those 27 will die of other causes before the cancer would have killed them so the real risk is lower.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 2:59 am
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TSA Risks

Apparently the TSA is merely increasing our risk of death. In the past 10 years less than 250 domestic US passengers have died due to terrorist incidents, a rate of (250/7 billion) or less than 1 in 30 million.

Because all of those deaths occurred before the TSA was founded, we'll give the TSA the benefit of the doubt and say that they were responsible for having reducing the rate to zero. But that rate reduction comes with a cost -- the 1 in 30 million guaranteed deaths due to cancer, plus the cost in civil liberties.

The cost benefit analysis demonstrates that TSA is delivering a raw deal.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 3:06 am
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For any medical procedure that causes risk, the benefits are supposed to vastly outweigh the risks or it's not even considered.

However, this is about making money for the scanner manufacturers, not increasing our safety.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 3:52 am
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And it does not include the cost in lost lives when the TSA themselves say of you do not like it do not fly. They actually recommend that people put themselves at higher risk of death to avoid the charade. Pathetic.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 4:20 am
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You have to consider the overall death and morbidity rates the TSA promotes, not just NoS. Removing shoes surely leads to accidents and can lead to infections and death. Limiting liquids which may be medically important too. Bending down, trying to put shoes on and off or take items on and off the belt also can lead to injury. Plus, the psychological effects of passing through the checkpoint should be also accounted for. Altogether, I think the math will strongly show the TSA causes significantly more morbidity and mortality than it prevents.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 6:00 am
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Isn't this argument, or those like it, demonstrating that the radiation exposure from these untested machines is dangerous, either individually or collectively, a paramount reason all of us should be pointing to for why the TSA needs to back down? Yes, of course, no one wants to be groped and no one wants their images up for others to view but, many travelers simply don't care about that. They seem willing to undergo cavity searches in the name of "security." But, when the radiation issue is raised many should indeed say, "well, that's not for me."

Moreover, as other posters have noted, the calibration issues with these machines are a principal problem. Who will calibrate them, how often, how are they trained? In hospitals such techs get extensive training and the machines are recalibrated repeatedly. Such machines are notoriously difficult to keep correct, and these machines are brand new, never before used so extensively. Yet we are supposed to believe the TSA, when looking out at lines of hundreds of people per hour, rather than six patients an hour for an in hospital X ray machine, will stop to calibrate them? And, if an image is unclear the response will be to "turn the dial" a bit more for a clearer image. That correlates to increased exposure.

For the gov't even to suggest that children, teens, or men or women of reproductive age should undergo this worthless radiation exposure is obscene.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 6:52 am
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While this is far from a perfect comparison, (in fact only a generalization from a completely different study of a procedure with proven medical benefit), Canadian researchers developed an algorithm which calculates the increased risk from mammographic screening of women between age 40-55.

This study calculates the average mammographic radiation dose is 3.7 mGy and increases the risk of an incidental cancer based on annual mammographic exams age 40- 55 and every other year between 55 and 74 to 1/1000. Since there is clear medical benefit the Canadians feel this is acceptable risk.

Mammograph machines use low energy x-rays, similar to what we are told about the backscatter Nude-o-Scopes, they use low doses of radiation, similar to what we are told about the NoS, and they only irradiate the breasts (different from NoS).

Since we don't know the true details of the XR-BS machines, we can draw some rough parallels. Multiple daily irradiation to the whole body occurs for occupationally exposed populations (pilots, cabin crews, frequent flyers). Biological time to repair radiation damage is on the close order of several hours to overnight.

The risk may be higher or lower than the mammogram study, but it is a study of population exposure to radiation and a calculated risk derived.

Is this applicable? I don't know, but I think we know the general parameters of population exposure, radiobiology and incidence of cancer induction from artificial radiation exposure.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 10:57 am
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Originally Posted by greentips View Post
While this is far from a perfect comparison, (in fact only a generalization from a completely different study of a procedure with proven medical benefit), Canadian researchers developed an algorithm which calculates the increased risk from mammographic screening of women between age 40-55.

This study calculates the average mammographic radiation dose is 3.7 mGy and increases the risk of an incidental cancer based on annual mammographic exams age 40- 55 and every other year between 55 and 74 to 1/1000. Since there is clear medical benefit the Canadians feel this is acceptable risk.

Mammograph machines use low energy x-rays, similar to what we are told about the backscatter Nude-o-Scopes, they use low doses of radiation, similar to what we are told about the NoS, and they only irradiate the breasts (different from NoS).

Since we don't know the true details of the XR-BS machines, we can draw some rough parallels. Multiple daily irradiation to the whole body occurs for occupationally exposed populations (pilots, cabin crews, frequent flyers). Biological time to repair radiation damage is on the close order of several hours to overnight.

The risk may be higher or lower than the mammogram study, but it is a study of population exposure to radiation and a calculated risk derived.

Is this applicable? I don't know, but I think we know the general parameters of population exposure, radiobiology and incidence of cancer induction from artificial radiation exposure.
To my mind, the real risk here is having people who are untrained in working with radiation in charge of these machines. Generally radiology techs have certifications and education to train them on how to properly calibrate a machine. Even with that, there have been some very real horror stories about people receiving massive doses of radiation due to failure to follow proper procedure. Do we really think that putting these machines in the hands of untrained TSA workers is a good idea? Most of them don't even seem to realize that they are emitting radiation (ask a TSA worker about them and they'll give you nonsense answers like "they're ultrasound" machines). This is a completely uncontrolled environment, which I have to believe pushes the risk much much higher.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:46 am
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Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
You have to consider the overall death and morbidity rates the TSA promotes, not just NoS. Removing shoes surely leads to accidents and can lead to infections and death. Limiting liquids which may be medically important too. Bending down, trying to put shoes on and off or take items on and off the belt also can lead to injury. Plus, the psychological effects of passing through the checkpoint should be also accounted for. Altogether, I think the math will strongly show the TSA causes significantly more morbidity and mortality than it prevents.
You forgot to mention the number of people killed into automobile accidents because the TSA's actions repelled them from commercial aviation.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:54 am
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So the cumulative effect on some frequent flyers is a medically unnecessary chest xray or two.....along with the flight crew.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 12:28 pm
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The backscatter nude-o-scopes might present a threat via ionizing radiation, but that risk is still debatable. IMO these devices, and the rest of the TSA, present a credible and quantifiable threat to human life. The data to show this are far less open to question and are largely available from public sources.

(There's also the loss of personal freedoms & rights, which I'll leave for a different thread.)

Originally Posted by InkUnderNails View Post
And it does not include the cost in lost lives when the TSA themselves say of you do not like it do not fly.
The TSA, by making flying more costly in terms of lost freedom, time (waiting in line), and money (added fees) drives people to other, far more dangerous, modes of transportation.

If my back-of-the-envelope calculations are correct, the TSA kills someone for every 300,000 or so trips (one-way) that someone does by car instead of aircraft*. Since there are over half-a-billion passenger enplanements per year in the US (source), that 300,000 trip figure is a tiny fraction of the total number of trips. If the TSA drives people to drive instead of fly 1% of time, that means the TSA probably kills a few dozen people per year (again, ballpark figures; I hope this is wrong). This is just from people choosing to drive instead of fly.

*: I got my data for the rough calculations from source 1 and source 2. I based my numbers on the average trip distance and deaths per passenger-mile, and assumed that trips taken by car instead of aircraft would be half the average flight distance: i.e. people would opt for car travel for shorter trips, not longer trips.

Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
You have to consider the overall death and morbidity rates the TSA promotes, not just NoS. Removing shoes surely leads to accidents and can lead to infections and death. Limiting liquids which may be medically important too. Bending down, trying to put shoes on and off or take items on and off the belt also can lead to injury. Plus, the psychological effects of passing through the checkpoint should be also accounted for. Altogether, I think the math will strongly show the TSA causes significantly more morbidity and mortality than it prevents.
Add to that the time lost waiting in line or in the humiliation cage (while one waits for screener to decide to get to work). Assuming an average of 5 minutes time lost to the TSA (non-scientific guesstimate based on personal experience), that represents over 5000 person-years lost per year. That's several human lifetimes lost to the TSA every year.

Someone please tell me that my figures (quick, ballpark, order-of-magnitude estimates) are horribly wrong.

Last edited by ralfp; Nov 17, 10 at 12:38 pm
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