Dec 7, 2010: Markey Queries DHS, TSA on Full Body X-ray Screening Equipment

Calls for report on how agencies inspect, maintain and operate screening equipment used to enhance aviation security

Washington, D.C. — Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and author of the mandate in the law to require screening of all air cargo carried on passenger planes, sent letters to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Richard Skinner and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator Frank Pistole seeking additional information on how TSA ensures the adequacy of its efforts to maintain and evaluate its general-use full-body x-ray screening systems that are currently used as a primary measure to screen passengers for airport security.

Rep. Markey asked Inspector Skinner to produce a report that responds to the following issues:

  • The effectiveness and reliability of TSA inspection plans on catching and resolving any potential issues that could arise with the functioning of the general-use full-body x-ray screening systems.
  • The efficiency of TSA quality control plans to ensure that the systems and protocols being used remain in compliance with the general-use dose-per screening limit of 25 µrem.
  • The manner in which TSA employees are trained in the appropriate operation and troubleshooting of the machines.
  • The way in which information about accidental overdoses is shared with other federal agencies and irradiated passengers or employees.
  • The coordination with other federal agencies, including FDA, with more subject matter expertise in this area.

Markey also sent a letter to Administrator Pistole calling on TSA to provide supporting documents and other relevant information by close of business Monday, December 20, 2010 and provide responses to questions that include:

  • How frequently does TSA plan to inspect the new advanced imaging full-body x-ray screening systems to ensure that the radiation emitted is within acceptable standards? What does this inspection entail and who is responsible for performing these inspections?
  • What are the maintenance and enforcement strategies that TSA has in place to ensure that all screening systems and protocols being used remain in compliance with the general-use dose-per screening limit?
  • Does the responsibility of monitoring the safe use of this equipment lie solely with the TSA or is it shared with the FDA? What are the monitoring and coordination plan(s) that are in place for sharing information and activities with other federal agencies?
  • What policies does the TSA have to ensure that any inappropriate dosage that occurs as a result from either human error or malfunctioning of the equipment is promptly reported to the individual(s) who are likely to have received a higher dose, and that the machines are repaired?  
  • Does the TSA have dosimeter monitoring plans in place for TSA employees?



    A full copy of the letter to the TSA can found HERE.

    A full copy of the letter to the Dept. of Homeland Security can be found HERE.



    TSA response can be found HERE .