TSA quietly replaces x-ray scanners at major airports with 'safer' devices... but moves the old machines to smaller cities Read


TSA quietly replaces x-ray scanners at major airports with 'safer' devices... but moves the old machines to smaller cities

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:33 EST, 20 October 2012 | UPDATED: 14:21 EST, 20 October 2012

The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly removing x-ray scanners from airports in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Boston and replacing them with newer technology that experts believe is safer.

However, the TSA is not retiring the controversial backscatter x-ray machines, which some researchers say could cause cancer in up to 100 fliers a year. The devices are simply being moved to smaller airports.

The agency claims the change isn't because of safety or privacy concerns -- many fliers complained that the backscatter x-rays revealed blurred images of their naked bodies to TSA employees.

Quiet: The TSA claims that the withdrawl of backscatter x-ray machines from cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles was for the sake of 'efficiency' - not safety

Old and new: The backscatter x-ray machines (left) were quietly withdrawn from major airports by the TSA in favor of millimeter wave devices (right), which do not subject fliers to x-ray radiation
Authorities say the change is simply a matter of 'efficiency.'

ProPublica, an nonprofit organization specializing in investigative journalism, revealed that the TSA was taking the backscatter machines out of several major airports.

Those sites are: Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare, Orlando, Logan International in Boston and both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia in New York.

The TSA will not reveal which airports the x-ray machines have been taken to. ABC News reports that they remain in use at other top airports across the country.

The replacement for the backscatter machines, which bounce low-level x-rays off each subject's body, are millimeter wave devices, which use radio waves similar to cell phones.

ProPublic reports that researchers have estimated that widespread use of backscatter x-rays will cause between 6 and 100 cases of cancer each year among fliers.

The TSA maintains the devices are within federal safety limits.

Privacy issues: Many fliers were also uncomfortable with the images of their bodies broadcast to the TSA by x-ray machines. The millimeter wave uses a nondescript image an computer software
Privacy is also an issue. The backscatter broadcasts blurry images of passengers' naked bodies to a TSA screeners.

The millimeter wave machine gives screnners a stock image of fliers' bodies and uses computer software to notify the TSA of any potential weapons.

The scanners were instituted across the nation after a failed plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009 using a bomb hidden in a man's underwear.

Both the millimeter wave and backscatter x-ray are designed to detect weapons hidden against the skin of air passengers.

Last month, the last backscatter x-ray machines were removed from the Manchester Airport after the European Union banned them 'in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens' health and safety.'

Read more:
Pro Publica: TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports
ABC News: Body Scanners Moved From Major Airports