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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to President Barack Obama on Problems with Airport X-Ray Scanners

May 28, 2010

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

It is important for citizens to give their President cautionary alerts about serious potential risks to the public’s health.

Enclosed is a letter from members of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) science faculty (including a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an internationally known and respected cancer expert) sent to your science adviser, Dr. John Holdren on April 6, 2010. These scientists express their deep concerns about the rapid deployment of the full-body backscatter x-ray scanner in U.S. airports without sufficient safety review by an impartial panel of experts. A call to Dr. Holdren’s office reveals that he is studying the letter and has not yet responded to the UCSF scientists.

Another highly respected radiation expert, Dr. David Brenner of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research has also raised serious concerns about exposing millions of airline passengers to radiation without an independent scientific review.

Security experts have also questioned the effectiveness of these scanning devices concluding that the devices can be easily defeated by concealing explosives in body cavities.

It was wasteful enough for the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to install the “puffer” security devices at U.S. airports and then withdraw them because they were found to be “unreliable” at a cost of $30 million to taxpayers. Now, a far larger amount of taxpayer money is being spent on these scanning devices by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which claims it is not obligated to observe the Administrative Procedures Act.

I suggest that you give your attention to this emerging risk. Preventing cancer should be a presidential priority.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

PO Box 19367

Washington, DC 20036

Letter from UCSF faculty to John Holdren