TSA Exploring Radiation Monitoring Devices For Workers

Jodi Leong KITV4 News Reporter

POSTED: 5:27 pm HST January 16, 2012
UPDATED: 6:11 pm HST January 16, 2012

HONOLULU -- For years, the Transportation Safety Administration has insisted its airport scanners are safe.

But the agency is now exploring the possibility of buying radiation monitoring devices to test its employees for potentially unsafe levels of radiation from security scanners.

The TSA confirms it is asking government vendors to "provide information on available devices for monitoring our security technology," said the TSA's Michael McCarthy.

The TSA said its search is preliminary.

But the Los Angeles Times reports the TSA asked government vendors last month "to provide wearable, personal dosimeters, devices that measure exposure to radiation."

In a statement released to KITV4 News, the TSA said it is "dedicated to the health and safety of its employees. We continuously test our technology to ensure it is safe for both passengers and our officers and post all results on our website."

The TSA also said the request for information on the monitoring devices is not related to any new findings or pressures from outside entities.

TSA critics have repeatedly warned the scanners may increase the risk of cancer.

The agency has cited independent scientific organizations as saying these backscatter machines emit the same amount of radiation that passengers are exposed to during three minutes in flight.

TSA employees said they have no choice if they are to keep their jobs.

Frequent travelers said they too have no choice.

"If you need to get from one place to another, that's going to require you to fly, you have to go with the system. What choice do we have. It has to be done," said Honolulu resident Filifaatali Mauai.

Passengers who refuse to go through the scanners are subject to pat downs.

The TSA said it is dedicated to the health and safety of its employees.

The agency knows of no documented cancer cases linked to its security scanners, McCarthy said.

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