Skip to comments.Do you use it? The everyday product that can trigger false positives on TSA explosives test
Posted on 04/30/2013 7:13:47 AM PDT by TSA-Watch
Youre 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. Dont 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 dont 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 arent the only things that can cause a false positive in the TSAs 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? Dont 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.
you could just double check to make sure that the soap that you use doesnt contain glycerin. Your choice.
Here’s the original source where the blog stole the story:
If you do the graveside ceremonies you will probably walk away with lawn fertilizer ~ particularly if you wear tennis shoes!
Never touch the stuff.....
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.
please stay down wind . . . LOL!
At least we know that the tests are sensitive...better safe than sorry, right?
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.
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.
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.
Exactly why it is important to go after the people not the materials. IOW profile. Meanwhile the TSA remains mired in minutia.
I’ve set the chem detector off a few times. Usually it is my shoes picking up fertilizer residue.
Thank goodness the TSA saved us from a horrible outcome on an airplane! /sarc
In that case, wouldn't a test that gives a positive result 100% of the time be the best test of all?
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?
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.
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.
Of course. Everyone is guilty, so the State can punish anyone on this pretext if they think bad thoughts.
And that’s “The moral of the store?”
You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, do you?
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.
“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.”
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.
Oops. Not find, but detect.
“These people are just window dressing at best.”
That’s why some frequent travelers call it, “kabuki theater.”
Is glycerin a component of explosives?
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.
"No officer, I was building a bomb!"
Is coherent grammar a component of communications?
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.
Sorry, I didn’t major in grammar
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.
Maybe the TSA should institute a new rule.
Before flying, no one should be allowed to wash or bathe for a week beforehand.
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.
New Dove, with 33% more Nitroglycerine!
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.
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!
“The moral of the store? Dont wash your hands after using the bathroom”
In a sane world, the moral would be to eliminate TSA.
My daughter got stopped because her fingernail polish remover triggered a false positive.
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.
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.
Wow really? Fingernail polish? I wonder what ingredient triggered it.
Yes, as is noted at the end of the blog post on the website, under Source.
The polish remover, it’s mostly acetone.
Nah, you listed yourself as the author.
You’re a thief. And a plagiarist.