A public research group has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security calling for a suspension of full body x-ray machines at airports, saying there is evidence that they cause cancer.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said it obtained documents following a Freedom of Information Act request that shows the machines could cause cancer, and that the government is not telling the public about it.
EPIC writes on its website:
The documents include agency emails, radiation studies, memoranda of agreement concerning radiation testing programs, and results of some radiation tests. One document set reveals that even after TSA employees identified cancer clusters possibly linked to radiation exposure, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters - safety devices that could assess the level of radiation exposure.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, that cancer cluster is among TSA agents at Boston's Logan Airport. EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg said union representatives found the cluster, and that Homeland Security "dismissed" the claims.
He said the government "has not been forthcoming with the public about the true extent of radiation risk with the airport body scanners."
Homeland Security insists testing has proven that the machines are safe, saying, "In addition to regular maintenance, each individual machine that uses X-ray technology is regularly tested to ensure the radiation emitted falls within the national safety standards."
But EPIC writes:
Another document indicates that the DHS mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST "affirmed the safety" of full body scanners. The documents obtained by EPIC reveal that NIST disputed that characterization and stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test the devices. Also, a Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the "General Public Dose Limit."