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Transportation Security Administration

TSA bolsters explosives detection capabilities

eTN Staff Writer  Sep 09, 2009

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it is deploying additional tools to screen powdered substances at checkpoints in order to further bolster existing explosives detection capabilities.

"Every day, TSA officers work at over 450 airports nationwide screening approximately 2 million passengers to keep the traveling public safe," said TSA acting administrator Gale Rossides. "These enhancements are part of TSA's efforts to stay ahead of emerging threats while continually strengthening our layered approach to security."

Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are experienced in identifying items that may pose a threat to transportation security utilizing explosives detection tools. TSA knows certain powders could be used in improvised explosive devices. While there is no specific threat at this time, TSA is deploying powder explosives detection kits to airports around the country to enhance existing explosives detection capabilities and further strengthen the layers of security. TSA piloted these kits in late 2008.

Passengers should know that while common powders are not prohibited, a small percentage may require additional screening. Typical security checkpoint procedures will remain the same. The vast majority of commonly-carried powders, like most medication, infant formula, and makeup, are unlikely to need further screening.

Officers will use X-ray technology to determine which substances may require additional screening with a powder test kit. If the substance does require additional screening, officers will use a powder test kit to collect a small sample and apply a solution to it to test for traces of potential explosives. If a particular powder is determined to be a potential threat, it will not be permitted into the secure area or checked baggage.

TSA bolsters explosives detection capabilities
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