Safe Radiation

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It has been confirmed Australian taxpayers will spend $28.5 Million dollars on 26 porn scanners for installation in airports later this year. These use an x-ray technology that passes radiation though the body, as do all x-ray technologies. Because it presents nude pictures of your wife to be ogled I call them porn scanners.

The US government position is that regulations allow for x-rays. They say it would take 5000 porn scans to equal a single chest x-ray therefore under current regulations up to 5,000 scans per person per year can be conducted safely. Did you spot the gaping hole in their thinking? Regulations allow it therefore it is, by definition, safe. Safe is now whatever a law maker says it is. This sort of thinking is right up there with I saw it first and pax. It’s an infantile view where reality is what I say it is.

Firstly, the science says there is no such thing as “safe” or “insignificant” levels of radiation exposure. Back in the 1950’s Dr Alice Stewart showed a definitive link between medical x-rays administered to pregnant women and childhood leukemia. It’s now universally understood to x-ray a pregnant woman is a serious health hazard. No matter how small the dose human eggs, sperm or other cells have no level of defence against radiation. Even a single chest x-ray.

Secondly, they are talking in generalizations that ignore how the real world works. In the 1979 melt down at Three Mile Island the owners made a similar statement, that emissions were the equivalent of a single chest x-ray, therefore “safe”. What they failed to note is this generalization would include every pregnant woman, every person with an existing genetic disorder, every at risk elderly person and every child. It’s a matter of public record the Three Mile Island victims experienced stillbirths, birth defects, sterility, hair loss, malformations, open lesions and more. The infant death rate soared. Their generalization makes no allowance for any previous radiation exposure or elevated risk of any kind. No acknowledgement of the existing level of radiation an individual has been exposed to in the past at all. No acknowledgement of the existence of at risk groups of any kind.

Thirdly, porn scanners are not the same as traditional x-ray machines which pass radiation through the entire body. Porn scanners concentrate the radiation into your skin only, which apparently is the most radiation sensitive organ in the body. It’s deceptive to compare a dose delivered to the whole body with a dose delivered to a single organ and say the risk is the same. When they deliver radiation therapy to a cancer tumor they concentrate the dose for the purpose of killing specific cells so it’s well known concentration can have a profound effect.

Sadly, the justification for all this is the old whipping boy “security”. Never mind Australian airports don’t have secured physical perimeters so you don’t have to smuggle the gun through a porn scanner you can just step through a hole in the wire fence. Never mind that baggage handlers aren’t security screened by police, so it’s been possible to run a drug ring from within Sydney airport in the past.

IF they had a secure airport that could reliably force everyone through choke points — AND IF they scanned everyone going in and out without any exceptions that could be exploited — AND IF they had checks on those running the security choke points - THEN maybe it could be worth having a debate about the trade off in people’s health risk versus an actual gain in security. But since none of those things is true they will create a health problem without any gain in security whatsoever.

Posted by Carlton Duston on 30 Mar 2011
Tagged with Blog, Opinion, None

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