TSA Body Scans Could Give Us so Much More

by on January 9th, 2015
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Somehow I’ve avoided the airport since the TSA has upped the security standards and technology to include body scanners and pat-downs. Given the choice, I always thought that I’d volunteer for the pat-down. Who knows what kind of radiation is in those body scanners? I also theorized that since almost no one would volunteer for the dreaded pat-down, I could, in a weird way, actually save time.

According to the TSA, AIT [Advanced Imaging Technology] is safe. The millimeter wave and backscatter x-ray technology emits very low doses of radiation, less than that of a cell phone transmission. In a report from the Archives of Internal Medicine it was concluded that low levels of radiation from airport screening body scans posed no significant threat. They also noted that the “estimation of cancer risks associated with these scans is difficult.” Funny, they say the same thing about radiation and cell phone usage. We just don’t really know if it’s risky, but for now, since we haven’t proven otherwise, we’re gonna go with SAFE.

So, we’re stuck with bodyscans and pat-downs and removing our shoes and carrying our 3-1-1 ziplocs of gels and liquids and whatever other hoops they’d like us to jump through. All of this so we can be allowed to get on a flight that will probably be delayed or cancelled. Three cheers for 21st century travel!

Most people have succumbed to the new procedures, but that isn’t to say they’re happy about it. I doubt the TSA has a PR firm to fix their image with the general public even though we all know they could use one. They are, however, connected with the U.S. Government via the Department of Homeland Security. Here in the U.S., it’s widely known that our obesity rates are skyrocketing. The costs of healthcare are also escalating faster than any of us can keep up.

That got me thinking. The TSA could improve their image if they got involved with Health Care Reform. If you don’t have health insurance or you don’t have the money for preventative care and clinic visits, where do you turn? The TSA body scan. Want to know your body fat percentage, bone density, or whether or not your hormones are out of whack? What about finding out if you’re at risk for osteoporosis or diabetes or if that really is a lump in your breast? You’d be screened for heart disease and cancer, no extra charge. You could even opt for a virtual colonoscopy. [Sure sounds a heck of a lot better than a real colonoscopy, doesn’t it?]

How would you learn all of this about yourself? All you have to do is book a flight wherever you want to go and line up for the ol’ TSA body scan. By the time you reach the end of the security runway before your flight, a TSA employee will hand you a personalized health profile to keep. Sure, there would be some people who would grumble about invasion of privacy, but those people already feel invaded by the current procedures.

There would be multiple benefits to a TSA security/health screening combo. Most doctors agree that early detection is the key for most health issues. Plus, think about it: a full-body CT scan can run you hundreds of dollars, more if you don’t have an insurance card with your name on it. Plus, you don’t get a trip out of the deal. I’m not planning to propose this idea to a TSA agent while I’m at the airport. For some reason, I think this would put me on the questionable list. I don’t want to be the smart aleck that gets red flagged for cracking a joke or proposing an idea. I do believe that If the traveling public actually got something out of these body scans, maybe we’d feel better about it. Maybe we’d complain less, be more patient, and be not only more secure, but healthier in the long-term. And who would we be thanking? The TSA. Not a bad deal for anyone involved.


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