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TSA Calls For Re-Tests Of X-Ray Scanners

The Transportation Security Administration has begun re-testing certain types of full-body scanners after mistakes were found in the initial testing reports. The TSA operates a couple hundred of what are called backscatter machines in airports across the country. Charlotte Douglas has a handful of them. They bounce x-rays off your body to produce images that look like chalk sketches. TSA officials have been assuring fliers over the past year that the machines only emit extremely low doses of radiation. TSA Federal Security Director, David Wray, said at the scanners' Charlotte debuted last year, one walk-through is equivalent to the exposure received during two minutes in flight. "This technology has been evaluated by independent third parties and meets national health and safety standards," said Wray. However, it has come to light the machines' maintenance records are riddled with mistakes. For example, one report shows radiation levels to be ten times higher than expected. U.S. lawmakers and USA Today requested the information late last year. About half of the reports were posted online last week. According to the newspaper about a third of those tests showed some kind of error. The TSA says they're calculation errors and don't impact safety. USA Today notes even the highest radiation readings which the TSA says were mistakes, is far below what an average person absorbs in a day. The TSA has called for all backscatter machines to be re-tested by the end of the month. It's also requiring contractors, including Rapiscan, which makes the machines and conducts much of the surveys, to re-train staff involved in the testing. The agency says it's working with the U.S. Army Public Health Command to conduct additional radiation surveys. The TSA has begun posting all internal radiation safety reports at its website.