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calculator errorJust when you thought it was safe to stop worrying about the TSA’s new full body scanners, our favorite PR-challenged government agency now finds itself in the midst of another controversy. Turns out that a variety of mistakes were made when the full body scanners were tested for radiation, including basic mathematical errors such as failing to divide by 10. (And here I thought it was just wordsmith types like me that found math hard!)

The errors made it appear that some machines were giving off 10 times as much radiation as they actually were … and that wasn’t the only problem with the reports. Other anomalies noted by the TSA included missing data and inconsistent responses to survey questions. (The tests were carried out by the machines’ manufacturers and third-party maintenance providers, not by the TSA itself.)

The good news, according to the TSA’s blog (which features several posts on the issue), is that the errors did not affect the safety of the machines — and that even the falsely inflated radiation levels were well within safe operating parameters. But as a precaution, the TSA is having all of its full body scanners retested and will post the results on its Web site, www.TSA.gov.

To learn more about the machines, see From Pat-Downs to Full Body Scanners: The TSA Firestorm.

While I’m glad the TSA will be making future reports publicly available, I can’t help seeing this as yet another black eye for an agency that’s repeatedly proven difficult for travelers to trust. Can we really rely on other data about the safety of the full body scanners, given the problems with these reports? Is the agency a victim of bad press, or is it really as inept as it appears?

Weigh in with your opinion below!

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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2 Responses to “After Errors, TSA to Retest Radiation Levels on Full Body Scanners”

  1. Leah Guren says:

    Even more annoying: full body scan and THEN still getting a pat-down. This is not making anyone safer.

  2. jk1939 says:

    “Is it really as inept as it appears?”……Is there water in the ocean??? This agency has been a disaster from the first day of its ill-conceived existence, and it has steadily gone from bad to worse. It should be dismantled ASAP and an entirely new approach implemented….one that treats people with a modicum of respect, NOT as though everyone (including seniors and babies…) is automatically suspected of smuggling “contraband” (defined as what??? a cup of coffee? shampoo? baby formula?) aboard the plane. If this means “profiling”….then so be it. Israel has the right idea….we could learn a lot from their system.

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