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Author: Subject: Airport Chemical Screening
MadHatter
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[*] posted on 22-12-2019 at 04:29
Airport Chemical Screening


A few days ago I was going through airport security when
a TSA officer swiped a wet strip against the palms of my
hands. When I asked why I was told to detect chemicals
that could be used to make explosives. I had been
working with KClO4 the day before but nothing came up.
Probably because of the holidays because this wasn't
done last time(6 months ago).

Just a note of caution.





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CharlieA
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[*] posted on 22-12-2019 at 18:02


You must have washed your hands really well!:D
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Lion850
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[*] posted on 22-12-2019 at 22:54


I'm not sure what these scanners test for, I often travel overseas for work and was randomly selected for testing by taking swabs of my hands and inserting then into a machine more than once when, in the weeks prior to leaving I worked in my lab most days, but never did anything show up in the tests (at least not as far as I know).
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RJ2
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[*] posted on 22-12-2019 at 23:34


You'll need a different test for an organic nitrate, an inorganic nitrate, a nitronium aromatic, an organic peroxide, an inorganic peroxide, a chlorine based oxyanion, a different but similar one, an organophosphate, an elemental halogen,an organomercury compound, a short chain alkane, a metal oxide mixed with an elemental metal, a natural alkaloid, a synthetic alkaloid, etc.

The test probably does detect a narrow range of threatening compounds, but you might not have handled any that make that short list. none of the measures are completely reliable. Some may simply be a show to discourage people from trying to bring contraband onboard.

They might get just as good of results putting a smokalarm labeled 'lie dectector' against the passengers butts And asking if they are planning any crimes related to the flight. "We can tell if you are lying and up to something, so don't even think about it"

[Edited on 24-12-2019 by RJ2]
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sodium_stearate
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[*] posted on 23-12-2019 at 08:14
airport security


It's a pure dog-and-pony show.

Total B.S. as far as I see it.

Anyone with any sort of inclination to do evil
and harm is free to do so.

It would not be very difficult to defeat what's in place now.:cool:




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because it is dressed in overalls and it
looks like work" T.A. Edison
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TheMrbunGee
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[*] posted on 23-12-2019 at 09:03


Also, They do not check if you make explosives at home, but rather if you have them on you. You can wash off hands anything in one go, but if they handle explosives in their bag/clothes, it is way harder to keep them off hands.



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Fery
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[*] posted on 24-12-2019 at 04:43


I travel by airplane a lot in EU and the extra departure scanning at airports seems to be a random process, about 1 of 5-10 passes of metal detector frame it beeps although I do not have anything metallic, then security swipes my palms and waist. I asked a lot of times at various airports and I always got uncertain answers like scanning for illegal/dangerous things, so I do not know whether drugs or explosives (so I assume security knows that the detector frame tells no metal present but necessity of random check for chemicals). Few times I even saw a dog sniffing for drugs among checked baggage while waiting for it after landing and read even about dogs sniffing for banknotes (some EU airports check for undeclared cash above 10000 EUR limit to prevent money laundering).
I have never had any problems and I always passed these extra checks flawlessly.
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Tsjerk
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[*] posted on 24-12-2019 at 05:28


These machines are small mass spectrometers, they catch anything that is a volatile organic. I can imagine they catch things like TNT, TATP, PETN, stuff like that. I don't think they are set to catch drugs, or at least not with a high sensitivity, they would be ringing all day.
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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 24-12-2019 at 15:41


Actually, not quite: they are ion mobility spectrometers. But yes, they can detect traces of most organic explosives as well as drugs. Which compounds constitute an alarm and at what level is probably set by the operator.
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MadHatter
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[*] posted on 31-12-2019 at 13:58
Return trip followup


W300C.jpeg - 636kB

My sister and I got back from visiting relatives
for the Christmas holidays and she found
this in her checked in luggage. Read their
policy about breaking locks on your luggage

Nice of them wasn't it ? :mad:

I guess 50+ year old grandmothers transporting
Christmas gifts for the grandchildren are a MAJOR
security threat ! MOTHERFUCKERS !




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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 31-12-2019 at 21:56


Yeah, I thought everyone knew that bags are sometimes opened for inspection?
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p4rtridg3
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[*] posted on 16-4-2020 at 18:28


Haha! I was wondering the same thing as I had been recrystallizing KNO3 the night before a flight a few months ago. Fortunately they decided not to test me.

I think most of the bomb scanners look for nitrates, a few fancy ones have been introduced recently to try and detect non-nitrogenous explosives. As for how well they work, I don't know. Traditionally explosives without taggants are held to be very difficult to detect, so those machines might just be looking for taggants that wouldn't be in amateur energetics anyway. All speculation, though.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2020 at 19:56


I used to work for a hazardous waste disposal company around 2008. I lived in Wisconsin but we had a contract with a university system out of Texas so we were traveling a lot. We took a gear bag with us containing, among other things - a respirator, chemical labeling stickers, books on reactivity/disposal, blank paperwork, uniforms, wrenches. I don't think a trip went by without a TSA flyer in my bag on at least one leg of the trip. Out of all the times we traveled though we only had one issue where someone had their bag swabbed and it came back positive for nitrates. Took about a half-hour for it to get sorted out but no big issue.



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mysteriusbhoice
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[*] posted on 29-6-2020 at 08:19


I wonder if shit does come up can you weasle your way out of it by saying that you extensively bleach your body due to germophobia and that because I was wearing a platinum ring and stainless steel ring and copper bracelet the platinum got charged and made NaClO4.
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Ubya
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[*] posted on 29-6-2020 at 12:33


Quote: Originally posted by mysteriusbhoice  
I wonder if shit does come up can you weasle your way out of it by saying that you extensively bleach your body due to germophobia and that because I was wearing a platinum ring and stainless steel ring and copper bracelet the platinum got charged and made NaClO4.


play dumb, in italy we have a say, "don't climb on mirrors", aka don't start making absurd stories, it will just make you look more guilty





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Steam
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[*] posted on 29-6-2020 at 15:05


I believe the devices the TSA uses are very rudimentary time of flight mass spectrometers. I have had a couple friends report getting flagged by them for possible explosive residue after applying glycerin-based moisturizers to their hands a short while before being swabbed. Then again, I might be wrong. It would be fun to have the opportunity to play with one of those devices one day (outside of working for an agency like the TSA of course D: ).

**EDIT**
I didn't see the post about them being ion mobility detectors- that is very interesting. It would still be fun to play with one!

[Edited on 29-6-2020 by Steam]




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Refinery
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[*] posted on 6-7-2020 at 06:42


You can legally get in contact with alarm-setting compounds on daily basis. For example, my friends who are gun enthusiastics, have triggered those alarms more than once, but it was mostly handed business as usual. Like my other friend said, working in the airport security, no matter if detectors go off, you still get on your flight if nothing is actually found, because detectors have tendency to go off, sometimes for something trivial. Same thing happens with eas security gates in stores for various items, although they don't have legal right to detain or inspect you, like border control does.
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[*] posted on 6-7-2020 at 07:14


I travel by air A LOT. I get swabbed every time as I have prosthetic leg. I departed DFW last wednesday, and had handled strontium nitrate that morning. No alarms.



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Tsjerk
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[*] posted on 6-7-2020 at 07:44


I think these ion mobility spectrometers (as DavidJR pointed out) are quite bad at detecting nitrates.
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