Professor John Sedat at the University of California, San Francisco is a very angry man. Sedat, an expert in biochemistry and biophysics, charges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rolling out security scanners that are not only dangerous, but deadly to human life.
“Society will pay a huge price in cancer because of this,” the scientist told CNET during a recent interview with the Internet tech site.
Under heavy fire from physicists and advocacy groups, DHS and TSA back-pedaled on their plans to expand the controversial terahertz (THz) back scanner security technology at America’s airports. During 2010, Germany and many other countries in the EU, commissioned independent studies of the scanners and eventually banned them. The scientific studies revealed the THz radiation levels are cumulative and significantly increase the risk of cancer and damage DNA. But the new scanners planned for border crossing checkpoints utilize a different kind of radiation. The federal government insists it’s safe.
Although many experts challenge the new security scanners, DHS is moving ahead with deployment at border crossings. One, located at the high traffic Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing is already in use.
Other concerned scientists argue that the new scanners are no better than the machines used at airports. The scanners, manufactured by American Science and Engineering, generate ionized radiation has alarmed biophysicists who claim it harms living flesh. It can also unravel the DNA molecule, damage chromosomes, and lead to virulent cancers, they say.
According to the manufacturer and an ambivalent DHS, the scanner—brand name Z Portal—is perfectly safe.
Z Portal emits streams of high energy X-rays designed to deep scan all types of vehicles. A redacted report on the specifications is available here.
Scanners may be risking millions to horrible, early death
The past several years the possible health risks from cumulative exposure to THz waves were mostly dismissed. Experts pointed to THz photons and explained that they are not strong enough to ionize atoms or molecules; nor are they able to break the chains of chemical bonds. They assert—and it is true—that while higher energy photons like ultraviolet rays and X-rays are harmful, the lower energy ones like terahertz waves are basically harmless.
While that is true, there are other biophysics at work. Some studies have shown that THz can cause great genetic harm, while other similar studies have shown no such evidence of deleterious affects.
Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico recently published an abstract with colleagues, “DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field” that reveals very disturbing—even shocking—evidence that the THz waves generated by TSA scanners is significantly damaging the DNA of the people being directed through the machines, and the TSA workers that are in close proximity to the scanners throughout their workday.
All that evidence, and more, led most of Europe to ban the scanners.
Yet the American government blindly forges ahead forcing a potentially deadly technology on a mostly unsuspecting, foolishly trusting public.
Redacted report on Z Portal scanner [PDF]