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Do you use it? The everyday product that can trigger false positives on TSA explosives test
TSA Watch ^ | 04/30/2013 | TSA Watch

Posted on 04/30/2013 7:13:47 AM PDT by TSA-Watch

You’re gonna love this. It turns out that two products that most of us use multiple times a day can trigger a false positive result for explosives during a TSA screening.

The culprits? Soap and lotion. Don’t believe me? A few days after the Boston bombings, Linda, an Oklahoma native, was flying out of Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Ohio when she was randomly chosen for a hand swab at a security checkpoint.

The TSA agent swabbed her hand and promptly informed her that she had tested positive for explosives, specifically nitrates.

The poor woman was naturally befuddled and racked her brain to think of everything she had touched that day.

“I was shocked. I don’t know how that happened. The only thing that went through my mind was, ‘What did I do? What did I touch?’ because I had been at work all morning,” Linda said.

She recalled washing her hands at work that morning and then used some lotion that was sitting on the counter. When she accidentally used too much, she slathered it on all the way up to her elbows.

Linda was eventually cleared after an extremely thorough pat-down of her entire person by TSA agents.

So what did cause the false positive?

It turns out that glycerin, the ingredient in some soaps and lotions that helps keep your skin soft and smooth, is also a common ingredient in explosives.

Soaps and lotions aren’t the only things that can cause a false positive in the TSA’s swab test for explosives either. Some heart medications containing nitroglycerin can also trigger a false positive, as can lawn fertilizer.

The moral of the store? Don’t wash your hands after using the bathroom at the airport and be sure to give the TSA agent a hearty handshake after your complimentary grope as a thank you for a job well done.

Or…you could just double check to make sure that the soap that you use doesn’t contain glycerin. Your choice.


TOPICS: Local News; Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: explosives; falsepositive; glycerin; lotion; soap; tsa; tsafalsepositive
It's nuts. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of soaps and lotions that contain glycerin. I wonder if the soap in the airport bathrooms contains it?
1 posted on 04/30/2013 7:13:47 AM PDT by TSA-Watch
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To: TSA-Watch

2 posted on 04/30/2013 7:17:46 AM PDT by varyouga
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To: TSA-Watch

Here’s the original source where the blog stole the story:

http://www.newson6.com/global/story.asp?s=22112531


3 posted on 04/30/2013 7:17:57 AM PDT by humblegunner
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To: TSA-Watch
The soap at the airport is probably desugared sugarbeet pulp ~ that's what most Walmart stores use, as well as actories and slaughterhouses.

If you do the graveside ceremonies you will probably walk away with lawn fertilizer ~ particularly if you wear tennis shoes!

4 posted on 04/30/2013 7:18:08 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: TSA-Watch
I recall seeing WWII posters admonishing people to keep glycerin rich materials to make explosives.
5 posted on 04/30/2013 7:19:00 AM PDT by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: TSA-Watch

Soap?

I’m safe....

Never touch the stuff.....


6 posted on 04/30/2013 7:19:38 AM PDT by G Larry (Darkness Hates the Light)
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To: TSA-Watch

Just flew out of Las Vegas last week. Who do they pick out of the line? The grumpy looking guy (me)? Or the cute little lady next to me? (the wife) yup, you guessed it, b-line for the wife again. I look thru the crowd and there are many people who I wouldn’t mind someone taking a second look at, but no... they go for the easy target everytime. These people are just window dressing at best.


7 posted on 04/30/2013 7:21:54 AM PDT by enraged
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To: G Larry

please stay down wind . . . LOL!


8 posted on 04/30/2013 7:22:39 AM PDT by txnativegop (Fed up with zealots)
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To: TSA-Watch

At least we know that the tests are sensitive...better safe than sorry, right?


9 posted on 04/30/2013 7:23:02 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: TSA-Watch
Some heart medications containing nitroglycerin can also trigger a false positive

The chemical test for explosives can detect nitroglycerin? I think that's a true positive. You might use it for medication rather than blowing stuff up, but it is still nitroglycerin.

10 posted on 04/30/2013 7:23:21 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Choose one: the yellow and black flag of the Tea Party or the white flag of the Republican Party.)
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To: muawiyah

About 5 years ago there was a huge local story about a man at our airport testing positive for explosives and them shutting the whole airport down. He was a gardener.


11 posted on 04/30/2013 7:27:45 AM PDT by sheana
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To: TSA-Watch

Glycerin and glycols are in almost EVERYTHING. Soaps, lotions, antifreeze, fuel additives, and it’s an integral part to metabolic functions in our bodies. This is one of those instances where ONE particular use (explosives) demonizes the rest of the safer, inert uses.


12 posted on 04/30/2013 7:27:51 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: TSA-Watch

Exactly why it is important to go after the people not the materials. IOW profile. Meanwhile the TSA remains mired in minutia.


13 posted on 04/30/2013 7:32:21 AM PDT by wita
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To: sheana

I’ve set the chem detector off a few times. Usually it is my shoes picking up fertilizer residue.


14 posted on 04/30/2013 7:33:54 AM PDT by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: TSA-Watch

Thank goodness the TSA saved us from a horrible outcome on an airplane! /sarc


15 posted on 04/30/2013 7:35:06 AM PDT by FamiliarFace
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To: stuartcr
At least we know that the tests are sensitive...better safe than sorry, right?

In that case, wouldn't a test that gives a positive result 100% of the time be the best test of all?

16 posted on 04/30/2013 7:36:47 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Moslems reserve the right to behead anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: TSA-Watch

             

17 posted on 04/30/2013 7:38:34 AM PDT by tomkat
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Yes, apparently this test gives a really high, if not 100%, percentage of glycerin. Glycerin is a component of the explosives they are looking for, isn’t it?


18 posted on 04/30/2013 7:40:28 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: Kirkwood

I’ve gone thru TSA patdowns with shoes I had worn at the range a day or so earlier, and curiously, it never pinged their GCMS.


19 posted on 04/30/2013 7:41:16 AM PDT by white trash redneck (Just one of B. Hussein Obama's "typical white people")
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To: TSA-Watch

The woman was befuddled and shocked. THAT is the intention, not safety and security. Grind the public into submission and teach them to be good little sheep with their heads up their a$$es.


20 posted on 04/30/2013 7:45:36 AM PDT by I want the USA back (Pi$$ed off yet?)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
"In that case, wouldn't a test that gives a positive result 100% of the time be the best test of all?"

Of course. Everyone is guilty, so the State can punish anyone on this pretext if they think bad thoughts.

21 posted on 04/30/2013 7:46:45 AM PDT by UnwashedPeasant
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To: FamiliarFace

And that’s “The moral of the store?”


22 posted on 04/30/2013 7:54:12 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: stuartcr
Yes, apparently this test gives a really high, if not 100%, percentage of glycerin. Glycerin is a component of the explosives they are looking for, isn’t it?

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, do you?

23 posted on 04/30/2013 7:57:28 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Moslems reserve the right to behead anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: enraged

TSA priority for screening:

1. Whoever looks least likely to resist.

2. If they have a body scanner or need to do a pat down, THE hottest woman in line.


24 posted on 04/30/2013 8:01:05 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: wita

“Exactly why it is important to go after the people not the materials.”

Shortly after the TSA was formed, an Israeli security expert stated, “In Israel, we look for people. In America, you look for objects.”


25 posted on 04/30/2013 8:02:23 AM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (November 4, 2008 and November 6, 2012.....Two days that will live in infamy!)
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To: stuartcr
At least we know that the tests are sensitive

I've heard the sensitivity described as...filling a football stadium full of golf balls, with one marked with an "X". The machine can find that golf ball.

26 posted on 04/30/2013 8:03:37 AM PDT by liege (You don't drive out the darkness; you turn on the light.)
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To: liege

Oops. Not find, but detect.


27 posted on 04/30/2013 8:04:14 AM PDT by liege (You don't drive out the darkness; you turn on the light.)
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To: enraged

“These people are just window dressing at best.”

Exactly.

That’s why some frequent travelers call it, “kabuki theater.”


28 posted on 04/30/2013 8:05:15 AM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (November 4, 2008 and November 6, 2012.....Two days that will live in infamy!)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Is glycerin a component of explosives?


29 posted on 04/30/2013 8:09:15 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: TSA-Watch

Thank goodness I don’t have to board an airplane these days unless there should be an emergency in Calgary where one of our daughters lives with her family.


30 posted on 04/30/2013 8:11:46 AM PDT by basil (basil --Second Amendment Sisters.org)
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To: TSA-Watch
Lotion?

"No officer, I was building a bomb!"

Mark

31 posted on 04/30/2013 8:23:53 AM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: stuartcr

Is coherent grammar a component of communications?


32 posted on 04/30/2013 8:30:03 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Moslems reserve the right to behead anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: stuartcr

I said that the best test would be one that always gave a positive result. No glycerin required. You agreed. You’re a fascist moron.


33 posted on 04/30/2013 8:31:10 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Moslems reserve the right to behead anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Sorry, I didn’t major in grammar


34 posted on 04/30/2013 8:31:26 AM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
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To: TSA-Watch

It’s not so much glycerin, as nitrate or nitrogen compounds that they’re looking for. Certain compounds can give a false positive in a quantitative analysis, like fertilizers, certain soaps, medications, and some metal products. Most commercial and military explosives are nitrated compounds, like TNT, RDX, nitroglycerin, fulminates, azides, ANFO, gunpowder etc. so these swab tests can quickly weed out potential bomber wannabes. Nitrated compounds aren’t very common outside of those uses though, which makes the tests effective. It’s other classes of high explosives that don’t rely on nitrogen chemistry that they really have to worry about, because they use the same elements that exist in virtually everything you come in contact with, and would be impossible to quantify, or have a reliable test for. It makes me thank god that those certain terror minded individuals are too stupid or lazy to crack open a chemistry book and understand the contents.


35 posted on 04/30/2013 8:41:29 AM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: G Larry

Maybe the TSA should institute a new rule.

Before flying, no one should be allowed to wash or bathe for a week beforehand.


36 posted on 04/30/2013 8:46:54 AM PDT by staytrue
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To: SampleMan

I was in Houston last year, they were working the line, talking to people and doing the swab thing. The guy looks at me and I dead-panned looked at him back, they skipped me, the guy a few places down looked like a total jihadi and they skipped him, instead they swabbed an old lady and a young college guy. Better to pick on the old and willing then to actually use their brains. I ended up sitting next to the jihadi guy, funny dude but he didn’t drink, so I ordered two more just to make up for him.


37 posted on 04/30/2013 9:00:32 AM PDT by enraged
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To: TSA-Watch

New Dove, with 33% more Nitroglycerine!


38 posted on 04/30/2013 9:02:18 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: TSA-Watch

Well at least then every OWS type will clear security since they never heard of soap.

Oh wait, they can’t afford to fly.

Oh the irony.


39 posted on 04/30/2013 9:05:15 AM PDT by PittsburghAfterDark
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To: staytrue

It has been my experience that some people already do that, and my dumb luck has been that I’ve been the poor sap sitting next to them!


40 posted on 04/30/2013 9:52:23 AM PDT by FamiliarFace
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To: TSA-Watch

“The moral of the store? Don’t wash your hands after using the bathroom”

In a sane world, the moral would be to eliminate TSA.


41 posted on 04/30/2013 9:53:54 AM PDT by DPMD
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To: TSA-Watch

My daughter got stopped because her fingernail polish remover triggered a false positive.


42 posted on 04/30/2013 9:53:55 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: stuartcr
Is glycerin a component of explosives?

Yes and no, glycerin is a form of alcohol and it occurs as a natural constituent in animal and vegetable fats which contain about 7% - 13% glycerine. Glycerin is not an explosive substance by itself. It has to be turned into nitroglycerin before it becomes explosive. Glycerin is hygroscopic and will absorb water vapor directly from the air to about 20% by volume. It is necessary to distill the "contaminated" glycerin to produce pure glycerol before proceeding with the nitrating process. Nitrating involves treating glycerol with a mixture of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. The nitrification is done by the nitric acid, the sulfuric acid reacts with the water produced by the nitrating reaction and allows the nitration to proceed to maximum yield of finished product. The last step involves "washing" the finished nitroglycerin to remove all traces of the spent acids. Any residual acid left in the product will reduce it's stability (bad ju-ju!).

Nitroglycerin is only one form of a nitrated explosive. The nitrification process process may be applied to any alcohol to produce, nitropropenol, nitroethanol, nitromethenol, and nitromanatol. PETN is Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, the nitrate ester of pentaerythritol. It is prepared by reacting pentaerythritol, an alcohol used in paints and varnishes, with nitric acid. RDX is cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine, another nitrated product; also known as cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine and cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (the Italians call it T4). The Nitrating process can be also used on cellulose to produce nitrocellulose (guncotton aka smokeless powder). Toluene may be nitratred to produce trinitrotoluene better known as TNT.

PETN and RDX are widely used to produce det cord and various plastic explosives, nitroglycerin may be mixed with anything from sawdust, sodium nitrate, Fuller's earth, to nitrocellulose to produce dynamite of varying strengths (40%-100%). And lest we forget, ammonium nitrate is probably the most widely used commercial blasting agent.

From the above listing is should be apparent that the vast preponderance of explosive compounds are nitrates. There are field tests for nitrates that have been in wide use by police for many years. They are commonly used to test a suspects hands and clothing for gun powder residue and have proved to be quite sensitive. Since nitroglycerin is a nitrate it seems redundant to test for glycerin as well. Such testing is bound to generate false positives because glycerin is a common ingredient in soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.

Acetone peroxide (Mother of Satan) is NOT a nitrate and is favored by terrorists. DHS would be well advised to keep their eyes out for that nasty stuff.

Regards,
GtG

PS It should not be necessary to add but do not try this at home as the reactions involved can and do go astray, producing toxic gasses, premature detonations are possible. There are more than a few ways to screw up the process.

43 posted on 04/30/2013 2:37:14 PM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
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To: muir_redwoods

Wow really? Fingernail polish? I wonder what ingredient triggered it.


44 posted on 04/30/2013 6:54:54 PM PDT by TSA-Watch (TSA-Watch.com)
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To: humblegunner

Yes, as is noted at the end of the blog post on the website, under Source.


45 posted on 04/30/2013 6:54:54 PM PDT by TSA-Watch (TSA-Watch.com)
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To: TSA-Watch

The polish remover, it’s mostly acetone.


46 posted on 04/30/2013 7:13:03 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: TSA-Watch

Nah, you listed yourself as the author.
You’re a thief. And a plagiarist.


47 posted on 05/01/2013 3:03:21 AM PDT by humblegunner
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