Common Lotion Ingredient Sets Off Explosives Screening at Airport - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Common Lotion Ingredient Sets Off Explosives Screening at Airport

Glycerin can cause false positive during screening



    Ingredient in Lotion Can Trigger Airport Security Scanners

    Lotion is causing concern with TSA screeners. An NBC 5 employee was stopped at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Thursday after glycerin, an ingredient found in many lotions, triggered security scanners. (Published Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013)

    A common ingredient found in beauty products can trigger a false positive with airport security, leading screeners to believe you could have been building a bomb.

    Glycerin, an ingredient in many lotions and other beauty products, has been known to alert the Transportation Security Administration's Explosives Trace Detection technology. A TSA spokesperson told NBC 5 it is a "not uncommon problem."

    The technology "must be sensitive enough to detect even the slightest presence of explosives on a passenger or a piece of luggage," TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said. "Due to this sensitivity, on occasion, commonly used items can render a false positive alarm during screening."

    An NBC 5 employee who went through security Thursday morning at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was pulled aside after passing through the full-body scanner. She said a screener gave her a light pat-down and swiped her hands. The swab tested positive for explosive material, she said.

    The TSA screener asked the NBC 5 employee if she recently had used lotion, and she told the screener she had. The screener then took her into a separate room, where her carry-on bag was emptied and her belongings were checked and swabbed.

    A screener again asked about the lotion, and the NBC 5 employee showed the product to the screener.

    Several travelers at DFW Airport say they have never heard about the phenomenon.

    "No, and I use a lot of lotion so, no, I haven't heard that," Wanda Jeffries-Hobbs said.

    "That would definitely be a surprise if you get up to the front and, all of a sudden, something like that happened," Greg Davenport said.

    "That's crazy," Tony Yodice said. "I won't moisturize before I go; that's all there is to it."

    The TSA said it is unlikely that lotion will trigger a false positive for explosives as long as you do not apply it shortly before attempting to pass through security.

    People can check product labels to see if a moisturizer contains glycerin.