If TSA Scanners Can Destroy This, What Else Can They Destroy?

insulinRemember when the thought of going through an airport scanner actually seemed preferable to a potential groping by an overly aggressive TSA agent? Those days are over. A teenage girl is claiming the full-body scanner at the Salt Lake City airport was so powerful it destroyed her $10,000 insulin pump.

Savannah Barry had a note from her doctor suggesting she avoid the scanners, but says TSA agents ignored her request to be patted down (really, a 16-year-old girl WANTED a pat-down, and they didn't think there might be a reason for it?). When her mom called the maker of the device designed to keep her daughter's diabetes from spiralling out of control, they said take it off. NOW.


Poor treatment of someone with a diagnosed medical condition is hardly a shocker coming out of the TSA. This is the agency known for poking and prodding the delicate tissue on the chest of a woman who'd just undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer. And last year it was a pregnant diabetic woman whose life was put in danger when agents seized her insulin. Poor Savannah's ordeal is just more proof that agents need better training before they're let loose in positions of authority over the general public.

Now for the real news. These scanners can destroy an insulin pump in the few seconds it takes to go through the machines one time. If they're that strong, and work that fast, what else are they destroying?

An insulin pump is made to be pretty hardy. They're worn, often by kids, constantly. They're there to protect life. If a few second blast of radiation that's supposedly no worse than a cellphone can destroy that ... It almost makes me wonder if I really do want to get on an airplane again.

I'll admit that I've preferred them to the pat-down process because I feel less exposed being judged by machine rather than man. I admit there are issues with the radiation for frequent travelers, and I supported the TSA backing off on forcing pilots to go through them. The build up of radiation in the system of someone who spends that much time in an airport would be mind-boggling.

But most Americans don't travel that much. Maybe once, twice a year? I was willing to take scientists' conclusions that we're at no more risk from that limited exposure to radiation in a scanner than we were walking around people using cellphones.

Now I'm not so sure.

What screening method do you prefer when going through airports? Why?


Image via cogdogblog/Flickr

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