Thursday, June 19, 2008

Are you radioactive?

Posted by John McHale

Are you radioactive? This is a question no one is asking you yet at airport security lines or at the federal building checkpoint, but it may come some day.

It also may surprise you to find out that you are glowing more than the smile on your face may say.

If someone undergoes radiation drug treatment such as thallium stress testing -- when the patient reaches his or her maximum level of exercise, a small amount of a radioactive substance called thallium is injected into the bloodstream -- they may be radioactive for as much as four weeks, thus setting off potential radiation detectors, says Bob Durstenfeld, director of PR and investor relations at RAE Systems in San Jose, Calif.

Durstenfeld told me this during a chat for an upcoming feature in Military & Aerospace Electronics on sensors for perimeter security.

He says the U.S. has no procedures in place for how to approach someone who sets off a radiation scanner.

Durstenfeld says his company has suggested a simple procedure -- just approach the citizen in question, tell them they have been found radioactive, and then ask if they would they mind being scanned.

Would you mind being scanned?

It's an important question. How far are we willing to let technology intrude upon our personal space to protect us from terrorism?

Knowing the havoc that a dirty bomb can cause makes a radiation scan seem a bit harmless … but Americans like their privacy.

Just something to think about.

1 comment:

  1. We all have some radioactive materials in our bodies other than medical treatments (Potassium 40 the most prevalant).

    Regarding how to deal with medical treatments the US Customs and Border Protection have to deal with it already. People cross the boarders hot. CBP has to determine what is a threat and what is not.