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TSA Admits To Bungled Radiation Tests of Airport Body-Scanners

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The Transportation Security Administration is re-analyzing the radiation levels of X-ray body scanners installed in airports nationwide, after testing produced dramatically higher-than-expected results.

The TSA, which has deployed at least 500 body scanners to at least 78 airports, said Tuesday the machines meet all safety standards and would remain in operation despite a “calculation error” in safety studies. The flawed results showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.

“It would appear that the emissions are 10 times higher. We understand it as a calculation error,” TSA spokesman Sarah Horowitz said in a telephone interview.

The snafu involves tests conducted on the roughly 250 backscatter X-ray machines produced by Rapiscan of Los Angeles, which has a contract to deliver another 250 machines at a cost of about $180,000 each. About 250 millimeter-wave technology machines produced by L-3 Communications of New York were not part of the bungled results.

Rapiscan technicians in the field are required to test radiation levels 10 times in a row, and divide by 10 to produce an average radiation measurement. Often, the testers failed to divide results by 10, Horowitz said.

“Certainly, the errors are not acceptable. It’s not every report. We believe the technology is safe,” she said. ”We’ve done extensive, independent testing. It doesn’t raise alarms in terms of safety.”

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Written by familysurvivalhealth

March 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm