Hand cream can be a security issue

ELLEN CREAGER
Last updated 08:49 05/12/2013

Relevant offers

Travel Troubles

Flight attendants' union blames overcrowding, shrinking seats for rise in onboard clashes Watch: Ferry crashes into harbour wall in Gran Canaria, Spain US airline worker suspended over on-board row Beck Eleven: The trans-Pacific relief effort to salvage my upset tummy Los Angeles airport misses gun in off-duty police officer's hand luggage Family of five split up on Jetstar flight despite paying for seat selection Auckland International Airport terminal evacuated after false alarm Hakarimata Summit Track fix a long way off Call for crackdown on short-term rental sites like Airbnb TSA airport security in the USA: They broke my zip and allowed my bag to travel open on flights

Q: On a recent flight from Phoenix, USA, I was selected to have my palms swabbed by the TSA. Then they told me my hands tested positive for explosives and put me in a room and searched me from head to toe. Of course, they found nothing.

The agent told me it must have been the Lubriderm hand lotion I used that set off the false positive. How can this happen? - Creamed

A: It is not an urban legend. Lubriderm, like many lotions and creams, contains glycerin, which in some cases can set off sensitive airport Explosive Trace Detection swab machines, the TSA tells me.

Harmless glycerin is a component of nitroglycerin, used in explosives.

Other things that the TSA acknowledges can cause an ETD hand swab to read positive for explosives: using nitroglycerin heart medication, being exposed to fertiliser (on a golf course or farm, for example) or working in the mining industry.

There even have been reports that hands of people who hold a Styrofoam / polystyrene cup before going through security can test positive for trace explosives.

So skip the lotion, but if you get selected for a search, don't panic. It's the unfortunate price of today's imperfect security.

- MCT

Ad Feedback

Comments

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content