Airport X-ray scanners, CT technology, and Heathrow

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by Colin O, Apr 25, 2021.

  1. Periodically someone posts a question asking if airport X-ray scanning of hand luggage will damage film. I always refer to the test performed by the French civil aviation authority in 2010, which showed that ISO 400 film can withstand 12-24 passes through traditional X-ray scanners, and ISO 100 film can withstand more than 24 passes. It's not as simple as saying ISO 400 film is safe and ISO 1600 film will be damaged - it depends on how many cumulative passes/doses the film receives. It's also been said that the higher levels of cosmic radiation encountered during a flight will technically have more of an effect on your film than any airport X-ray scanning. Because it seems quite safe to me, I routinely carry film in my hand luggage and have never noticed any ill effects. Indeed, I took an extended trip in 2004/2005, when some of my (mostly ISO 100 colour reversal) film went through 30 flights, with no ill-effects.

    However, now airports are using newer CT (Computed Tomography) technology in their screening equipment, and Kodak Alaris (for one) updated their Storage and Care of KODAK Photographic Materials bulletin with the following info...

    Last summer I travelled through Heathrow Airport in the UK, and just put my film through the scanner as I'm used to doing. Long story short, everything was OK. However, I contacted Heathrow after my trip, enquiring about whether or not they were using CT scanners, and I got this reply...

    This was followed up about two months later with another reply...

    So, it seems that Heathrow will soon widely implement this CT scanner technology, if they haven't done so already. But judging by the advice given to me, a hand inspection should be granted if requested. Of course, as always, be courteous, patient and explain nicely :)
  2. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I can't see security holding up the line until a supervisor arrives to settle a dispute about hand checking. As has happened to me, they say "OK" and I go through and then watch the belt as my film in a clear plastic bag comes through the machine where they put it. What are you going to do? Tell them to put it in reverse to undo any damage?

    I have put the same film several times through the old machines with no problem. I don't know abut the newer CT scanners. And apparently neither do the airport security agents. "...these scanners may impact the camera film,"
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Just search this do the newest airport security scanners harm photographic film. Vast amount of info - read what seems authoritative and decide.

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