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Thread: Airport X-ray

  1. #1
    panchromatic's Avatar
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    X-Ray Damage!

    I'm doing a Speech for my speech class on the dangers of traveling with film through airports and I wanted to include as a source (other than an independant study, sources from both kodak and fuji) a interview. If anyone here would like answer a few questions via email on the subject then let me know. It would be only a few questions, nothign long, the speech is only 7 minutes and you would be one of five sources so it is likely only a sentence or two in my speech.

    The only stipulation i have is that you know at least something about the dangers, you don't need to have a degree as a x-ray tech

    thanks in advance.
    --Ryan

    "The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance." ~Ansel Adams

  2. #2

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    I travel by air in the USA a lot.

    If it is 100 ISO or lower film, I leave it in my hand luggage. I have seen no increase in fog levels from the hand luggage Xray exposure.

    If it is 400 ISO film or higher I have it hand inspected.

    I do not place film in checked luggage because the Xray dose levels are potentially higher.
    Tom Hoskinson
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    Monophoto's Avatar
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    There are two areas of concern. First, screening of carry-on baggage:

    1. The effect of x-rays is cumulative. Two exposures are more significant than one, three more than two, etc.
    2. The exposure associated with x-ray screening at airports in the US is low. This x-ray scanning is done right in front of you as you are going through screening. Remember the last time your dentist did x-rays of your teeth? Because it is not practical for either passengers or screeners to be given the level of protection that you and the technician receive when your teeth are x-rayed, then the dosage at airline security has to be miniscule. As a practical matter, the amount of exposure on ordinary film due to x-ray screening is less than the exposure that the film would receive from environmental radiation during a flight across the US.
    3. It is also consistent - operators cannot "turn up" the machine. The equipment does have an "image intensifier" that is operator adjustable - but this is functionally equivalent to the "brightness" setting your your TV or computer monitor. The adjustment affects ONLY the image that the operator sees on his screen, not the strength of the x-rays.
    4. Therefore, if the film goes through screening only a limited number of times, the amount of potential damage - for ordinary (EI 400 or less) film is not consequential.
    5. But if film is exposed to screening multiple times, on multiple flights, there is some potential for fogging.
    6. There is less consistency in screening exposures outside the US, and especially in "developing countries" where the equipment may be older and not as well maintained.


    The second area of concern is screening of checked baggage. It is becoming more common for checked baggage to go through x-ray screening. The equipment used for this screening at major airports is often far more powerful than the equipment used to screen carry-on baggage. The best available information is that it is possible for this screening equipment to fog ordinary film in one pass. For that reason, it is not recommended that unprocessed film be placed in checked baggage.

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    eric's Avatar
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    Dang Airport X-ray machines!

    Just came back from 2 weeks in the Philippines. I have no idea, but I COMPLETELY forgot to carry-on my film. I had tons of it. I just processed about 10-11 rolls of 35mm and completetly fine. However, my 120 film, some have about a 2cm band sometimes a little at the tip and some completely all the way down.

    The other type of damage confused me and that's what made me figure it was x-ray damage. Some of my Holga film, I guess being looser wound, had perfect SINE waves all the way down them. I think the x-ray maching in the check-in was super strong. Especially in Korea.

    I have about 8 rolls of C-41 color. Hope those are okay. I wonder if the unexposed films are okay. Sighh.....

    Man, I'm bumed. I think all the luggage and squeezing them in luggage and the 2 kids, I totally forgot about the film. Well, in a way, I have my priorities straight, I need the 2 kids to be comfortable and within eye-shot and not carry tons of stuff.

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    david b's Avatar
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    dang memory!

  6. #6
    DBP
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    You mean you put the film in the checked baggage instead of the kids?

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    I'm sorry to hear about the x-ray damage to your film. The patterns that you describe are charactistic of the CAT-scan type machines used for checked baggage in many countries. Examples are shown at http://www.kodak.com/global/en/servi.../tib5201.shtml

  8. #8
    Wigwam Jones's Avatar
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    I guess it beats putting the kids into the checked luggage...

    And I wish those who continually advise that they put their film into their checked luggage all the time and NEVER have any damage would read this thread. They might change their tune.

    Very sorry to hear your film was damaged - a really rotten break!
    Best,

    Wiggy

    Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote

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    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Unexposed, or exposed, but unprocessed film in checked baggage is headed to almost certain death. Film in carry on baggage seems to fare much better, and when mine has been Xrayed by a checkpoint machine, it has suffered no damage. So far I have been granted hand inspection most of the time, and the moron factor in the TSA regarding pro level film seems to be declining. Looks like they may be gaining some experience. Lately, out of Salt Lake they just visually inspect it and then do the "sniff" machine.

    In Paris, I was actually intercepted by a security person who was intent on preventing me from running my film through the Xray machine. Must have been a photographer. Refreshing, to say the least.

  10. #10
    eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner
    Unexposed, or exposed, but unprocessed film in checked baggage is headed to almost certain death.
    Ouch. I'll have to pluck some 120 out of the unexposed ziplocks that I have and process one.

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