TSA Checkpoint Screeners Concerned About High Cancer Rates

 Gadget, Technology  Comments Off on TSA Checkpoint Screeners Concerned About High Cancer Rates
Jul 122011

Well, I won’t say, “I told you so, but…” The New York Times is reporting on email exchanges between TSA employee representatives and Department of Homeland Security officals about concerns over increased cancer rates.

According to the article, airport screeners in Boston and Atlanta were concerned about growing numbers of co-workers ‘falling victim to various forms of cancer,’ which they suspected might be caused by radiation exposure from the machines. ”

The e-mails and other documents were obtained by the privacy center under the Freedom of Information Act as part of its own lawsuit against use of the scanners. Ginger McCall, the center’s open government counsel, said the documents also showed that the T.S.A. had denied employees’ requests for dosimeters, safety devices that measure radiation exposure. “There is still a need for independent safety testing of these devices and for greater transparency on the part of T.S.A.,” she added.

This comes as no surprise to me. These things are unleashing x-ray radiation in a wide open environment. They claim the does is too low to matter, but I’m not sure that DHS is qualified to make that call, nor am I sure any level is a good idea beyond what might be medically necessary. Field testing back in March showed they were giving off ten times the radiation expected, and TSA steps into the fray to proclaim it was all just a simple math error (by several technicians at different sites mind you).

If I go to the hospital or even the dentist’s office and get an x-ray, it can be performed only by a person with a certification. I’ve yet to find one single TSA goon with a radiological certification of any kind.

And if the dose is so low it doesn’t matter, then why wouldn’t the TSA prove it by allowing TSA people to wear dosimeters for a while, and just clear up this whole matter? I’ll tell you why, they don’t want you to know just how much radiation really is being emitted. I’ve seen leaked images where people waiting in line were showing up in the x-ray, and if it doesn’t go any deeper than the skin, why do people with joint replacements have to carry a card showing a medical x-ray of their joint…according to DHS the TSA machines should not be able to see anything that deep, but it apparently does.

I opt-out. They can have someone come over and feel me up if they want to, but until they start having people who are certified and wearing dosimeters running their x-ray machines, I’m not letting them x-ray me. I’ve found you actually get through the feel-up, rub down, pat down pretty quick. Once the person starts going through their little explanation about what all they will be feeling, rubbing, patting, I just tell him that as a gay man I’m used having other guys feel me up, so he should just go ahead and enjoy himself. They usually wrap it up pretty quick.

Goodbye to Elizabeth Edwards

 Culture, Featured, Gay Issues, Society  Comments Off on Goodbye to Elizabeth Edwards
Dec 072010

As you probably know, Elizabeth Edwards, estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, lost her six year battle with cancer today. My understanding is that she was home. Only yesterday they reported that no additional treatments would help, and talked like she had weeks to live. I guess it was worse than expected.

Elizabeth Edwards was a class act all the way around. I voted for her husband, and a huge part of the reason for that was that I can’t imagine a greater First Lady for this country than Mrs. Edwards. I’m sorry her husband turned out to be just another scumbag politician.

This video is from her speaking at an HRC Dinner in San Fransico in 2007, I believe.


Ms. Edwards’ can speak for herself with her last Facebook posting, just a couple of days ago. “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces, my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined.”

I wish the best for her family during a difficult time, and this country lost a bright light.

Would Health Care Reform Help You?

 Congress, Featured, Politics  Comments Off on Would Health Care Reform Help You?
Mar 162010

Guest Post: I am thrilled and honored to have a guest post today from Barbara O’Brien. Barbara’s blogging at The Mahablog, Crooks and Liars, AlterNet, and elsewhere on the progressive political and health blogophere has earned her the notoriety of being a panelist at the Yearly Kos Convention and a featured guest blogger at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC. I read The Mahablog daily, and am always interested in the thoughtful and provocative posts there, so we are very excited here at Deep Sand to have our very first guest post, and we couldn’t be more excited that it’s Barbara.

Many obstacles and stumbling blocks remain in the way of health care reform. The House and Senate bills will have to be merged, and then the House and Senate both will vote on the final bill. We don’t yet know what will be in the final bill, or if the final bill will be passed into law. Passage will be especially difficult in the Senate, where it will need 60 votes to pass. It is still possible that after all this angst, just one grandstanding senator could kill the whole thing.

But just for fun, let’s look at what conventional wisdom says will be in the final bill and see if there is anything in it that will be an immediate benefit to people with mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related disease.

It is likely that the final bill will provide additional funding for state high-risk insurance pools. Currently more than 30 states run such pools, which are nonprofit, state-sponsored health insurance plans for people who can’t buy insurance because of pre-existing conditions. The biggest problem with such pools is that, often, the insurance they offer is too expensive for many who might need it. Both the Senate and House bills provide $5 billion in subsidies for state high-risk pools to make the insurance more affordable.

Under the Senate bill, beginning in 2014, private companies would no longer be able to deny coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions, nor could they charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. Until then, the state high-risk pools could provide some help.

Closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap — also called the “doughnut hole” — is another potential provision that could help some patients with asbestos-related disease. The “doughnut hole” is the gap between the coverage for yearly out-of-pocket expenses provided by Medicare Part D and Medicare’s “catastrophic coverage” threshold.

For example, in 2009 Medicare Part D paid at least 75 percent of what patients paid for prescription drugs up to $2,700. After that, patients must pay for all of their prescription medications until what they have paid exceeds $6,154. At that point, the catastrophic coverage takes over, and Medicare pays for all but 5 percent of the patient’s drug bills. The final health care reform bill probably will provide for paying at least 50 percent of out-of-pocket costs in the doughnut hole.

You may have heard the bills include budget cuts to the Medicare program, and this has been a big concern to many people. Proponents of the bill insist that savings can be found to pay for the cuts, and that people who depend on Medicare won’t face reduced services. But this is a complex issue that I want to address in a later post.

The long-term provisions probably will include many other provisions that would benefit patients with asbestos-related disease, including increased funding for medical research. Although there are many complaints about the bill coming from all parts of the political spectrum, on the whole it would be a huge benefit to many people.