6.30.2008

Ahmadinejad's X-Ray Woo

According to AFP, the IRNA News Agency is reporting that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the target of an X-ray plot on his recent trip to Rome. The Iranian Ambassador to Italy said:
"One day before Ahmadinejad's trip, I checked and found out that the (security) X-ray machine set up in the place where he was staying gave off excessive radiation," Zohrehvand said.

He said that the regular radiation level of such equipment in Italy was "300" but on this machine it had reached "800".
So, 300 is normal while 800 is an assassination attempt. OK...but 800 what? Millirem, as the article goes on to suggest? Certainly not.

X-Ray equipment is used to look inside luggage, not inside people (excluding obvious medical uses - and I don't get the impression Mahmoud was traveling to Rome for Dental work). Most security systems employ metal detectors which do NOT emit X-rays. Rather, they create a steady magnetic field which is disturbed by the presence of metal, as from guns. Stud-finders and beach metal detectors work on the same principle. You are NOT shooting radiation into your walls when you use one of these devices.

There have been advances in X-ray imaging technology such as the Backscatter X-ray imagers. Remember them? They are the ones that caused so much controversy because they can actually see through your clothing. But the typical dose from one of these devices is 10 microRem. To put that in perspective, you get 10 microRem just from being outside for 5 minutes. Your average annual dose received just from natural background radiation is 30,000 times the backscatter x-ray machine (or about 300 milliRem).

So let's get back to what the Iranian ambassador to Italy said. He claimed:
the regular radiation level of such equipment in Italy was "300"
If we assume he's talking about any security related x-ray machine, his units must be in microRem by the most conservative measures (I'm even spotting him an order of magnitude - airport X-ray machines for baggage are closer to 30 microRem than they are to 300). Exposing Ahmadinejad to 800 microRem is equivalent to a two hour flight, or spending 48 hours in Denver, or 3 days in the Miami. Doesn't sound so bad does it? By the ambassador's logic, we need suicide intervention for everyone from Denver planning plotting their 2-week vacation to the Bahamas.

1 comment:

Rawley said...

This guy is a total nutcase, makes Bush look normal.