TSA Asks Passengers "To Use Some Common Sense"
Doctors report a one-month-old baby
who was accidentally put through an X-ray machine at Los Angeles
International Airport this weekend will be just fine, and that he
did not receive a dangerous dose of radiation.
The Los Angeles Times reports a 56-year-old woman placed her
grandson in the scanner Saturday morning. TSA workers did not see
the unnamed woman put the baby on the belt, but a worker pulled the
bin out of the machine when he noticed the outline of a baby on the
Officials say the woman spoke Spanish, and apparently did not
understand English. She initially resisted efforts by airport staff
to have her grandson taken to a local hospital for examination --
security officials called the paramedics anyway. After an
examination, the woman and her grandson were allowed to board a
flight to Mexico City.
The incident, while unusual, is not unprecedented. Paul Haney,
deputy executive director of airports and security for the city's
airport agency, said an infant in a car seat went through an X-ray
scanner at LAX in 1988.
"Since then LAX has served more than 1 billion travelers without
an incident of this type," he told the Associated Press.
Officials are questioning whether the TSA has enough screeners
at checkpoints to catch similar errors.
"Rather than focus on the radiation dose, which is a small
amount, we need to focus on why this happened, so it doesn't happen
again," said Dr. James Borgstede, a diagnostic radiologist at
Penrose-St. Francis Health Systems in Colorado Springs, CO and
president of the American College of Radiology. "Human beings
weren't meant to go through those things."
Borgstede says the infant was subjected to the same dose of
radiation in the machine, that he would naturally receive from
cosmic rays in a day.
"The screeners are still reporting that they're being pushed,"
said retired FAA security agent Brian Sullivan. "If a baby can get
through, what the hell else can get through?"
The TSA says its workers can't monitor everything passengers
place on the belt -- and notes there are signs posted at ticket
counters and near checkpoints, in both English and Spanish, warning
people to place all metal objects into bins for x-ray
"There's an obligation on the traveler to use some common
sense," said Larry Fetters, the TSA's federal security director at
LAX. "If they don't understand, they should ask somebody. If they
ask us, we are generally able to find someone who speaks that
language and assist them."