Report: TSA to test airport screeners for radiation

Los Angeles Times report says TSA asked vendors for radiation detection devices

Published On: Jan 16 2012 11:41:42 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 17 2012 01:19:13 AM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

The controversial airport body scanners may be getting a closer look after increased concerns about the radiation they emit, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

The report said the Transportation Security Administration will now test 1,100 employees at 100 airports across the country using personal radiation detection devices. The TSA will test employees for radiation from "backscatter" body scanner devices. Orlando International Airport uses the "backscatter" technology in its security lines.

"If they're that concerned that they're going to be testing their employees, must not be something that's that safe to use," said frequent flier Holly Holderman. "It's not very good when you have to go through that machine. It's a health concern for me now."

"It's definitely a concern if it's going to increase the probability of cancer," said Sandy Rodriguez, "But until it's proven, I don't see a need for taking it out because it is providing security."

However, the controversial machines have already been banned in Europe over increased cancer concerns. The TSA insists it does frequent checks of the machines, but until now have not allowed employees to wear radiation detectors called dosimeters. The LA Times report said the government agency asked vendors to provide "wearable, personal dosimeters" as it's ramps up for the new tests.

"I think they are probably just thinking ahead. These claims are out there and they're going to have to have some kind of backup and be able to speak to it as well," said Libby Allgood, who went through a backscatter machine earlier in the day. "If I was the employee next to it maybe I'd be more concerned."

The TSA wrote on its website that the US Army has already done radiation tests using personal dosimetry devices, but the LA Times report appears to indicate the tests may be widening.

The TSA has said it frequently tests technology and posts the results online and the agency insists the machines are safe.