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Are you radioactive?


Thursday, June 19, 2008

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.

Post a Comment

1 Comments:
Blogger Scott said...
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.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 4:22:00 PM EDT  


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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.


Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.


John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.