Airport security scanners are advanced machines designed to outsmart smugglers hiding illegal objects concealed under clothes or even inside the body like in the stomach or even in the bum ( Nasty people take medical help for such procedures ).
Airport scanners can efficiently detect hidden illegal items but cannot see inside the body.
If you set off the scanner during the screening process, you might be causing false alarms due to piercing, body jewelry, implants, or medical devices on you like pacemakers, braces, pant zip, watch, or even hairpins. If not, then chances are the detector is picking up something like a piercing in the groin in your body and you better see a doctor to figure that out.
Why Do I Set off Airport Body Scanners Groin?
Can You Avoid the Body Scanner set off?
There are a few methods that you can use to avoid the body scanner setting off during the screening process.
Wearing Drawstring Material:
Metal is not hard to detect by the scanner but there are costumes sometimes with thick layers that can trigger the alert therefore, you should wear sweatpants with a cotton drawstring. Plus, don’t use metal belts and pants with zippers to avoid getting detected in the scanner.
Having Empty Pockets:
Having different items like watches, rings, cash, or tissue will make the agent suspicious during a pat-down search so keeping pockets empty will decrease the likelihood of triggering the scanner.
The idea behind this is to look as naked as possible to avoid any kind of suspicion during the screening process and always wear anything from the options like Rayon, Nylon, Silk, Naugahyde, Denim, Leather, Linen, Wool, and so on.
Similarly, thick clothing layers are also one of the reasons for the scanner to trigger and you can avoid this by avoiding velcro fasteners, transport pockets, tucking your shirt in, sloppy clothing or underwear, a large collar shirt, and donning wet garments.
Can Airport Scanner Detect Health Issues?
We have already explained the answer to this question in a separate article but for your convenience, the Airport security scanner may detect anomalies and bulges but won’t be able to detect serious health issues like cancer or hernia previous scanners ( backscatter) were able to detect kidney stones in a passenger.
Can Airport Scanner Detect Inflammation?
Airport scanners cannot detect inflammation in human bodies like skin growth, implants, colostomy bags, and other protrusions added to the body with medical help.
Can Airport Body Scanner See Tampons?
Airport scanners cannot see inside the body and cannot see items inside the body but can definitely detect items like tampons or menstrual cups and sometimes there are drug bags hidden inside the body of a passenger which a scanner can successfully detect.
If you are detected to be using tampons, you may be pulled aside due to the issue of abnormalities in your body and clothing but it will most probably be sequins, embroidery, or fold in your outfit.
So, be ready for further investigation and inspection in such a situation.
Thanks to the smugglers of illegal items ( weapons, narcotics, and explosives ), airport security is getting tighter, strict, and smarter. Especially, the use of body scanners has brought a revolution in fool-proofing and outsmarting the smugglers that now is almost impossible to get anything illegal onboard ( This includes modern airlines of tier 1 countries like America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the United Kingdom).
Brief History of Body Scanners:
Dr. Steven W Smith developed the first ultra-low-dose backscatter X-ray and millimeter wave scanner in 1992 to detect implanted explosives and illegal items hidden inside the human body. Surprisingly, these scanners were smart enough to penetrate inside the human body and easily show what’s under the skin like shin bones, but not ribs or internal organs.
Dr. Steven then sold these scanners with the patents to Rapiscan systems and later these scanners were assessed by different government bodies like the Food and Drug Administration, the National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurement, and other independent sources so that these scanners would be legalized for use.
Similarly, back in 2000, there was someone else known as Dr. Vladimir V. Linev who patented a system for full body scanners which was an X-ray-based scanner and was known as the CONPASS body scanner.
In 2009, a Nigerian citizen Umer Farouk Abdulmutallab, hid the explosives in his underwear and tried to explode the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight but remained unsuccessful and is now serving four life sentences ( https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/underwear-bomber-umar-farouk-abdulmutallab-sentenced-life ).
That was when Airport security became a serious issue and in 2010, TSA ordered 500 whole-body scanners and deployed all those scanners across the Airports in the US. These scanners received a lot of criticism because they were invasive enough that the TSO looking at the screens would clearly see the naked body of the passengers and then look them in the eyes. Plus, some nasty TSA agents would take photos of those scanned images and share them with others as well. Although TSA kept saying they never stored the data of passengers but after an incident of 31,000 leaked passenger photos, TSA undeployed the “nudie scanners” from all across the US airports and replaced them with less invasive airports.
But, that raised other concerns like people could easily conceal things like metal, plastic, ceramics, chemicals, and explosives under their clothes. So, TSA implemented a strategy in which they altered the algorithm of the scanners and now the scanner would not show naked images instead it would replace those images with cartoon-like avatars hiding genitals and other parts of the body.
You can see the image of a man and woman with a clear representation of a firearm and knife. But, TSA no longer uses these scanners instead they have started using “Automated Target Recognition” software that replaces human images with avatars or cartoons so agents cannot see the private parts of the passengers.
Body Scanners and Their Types:
Body scanners are not to be frightened or annoyed, Instead, they ensure the safety of everyone onboard a plane. So, rather than being scared, follow protocols and take care of everything in advance so that you can get through this process smoothly before boarding the plane.
Gone are the days when TSA agents would see your naked body on the screens during your screening process. These days, whole-body scanners are totally safe and the scanned images are not stored and cannot be retrieved later, although this topic had been controversial in the past.
Similarly, passengers afraid of the health risks associated do not need to worry as the scanners are safe for pregnant ladies, and cancer patients, even specialized scanners can deted some types of concerns and alert the passenger to handle the situation earlier.
TSA agents with the help of these scanners can now easily capture smugglers wearing or carrying illegal contents on or inside the body. Thankfully, now they can identify metallic ( like knives ) and non-metallic ( like explosives ) contents and other dangerous items like chemical powders to protect the lives of others.
Passengers with other medical conditions like anxiety, depression, or sexual assault survivors can feel slightly uncomfortable submitting to body search but that can be handled efficiently if requested politely.
Moving on, body scanners can trigger alarms due to several reasons like hip and knee implants, pacemakers, bobby pins in hair, body piercing, body jewelry, prosthetic limbs, defibrillators, different thicknesses of clothing, underwire bras sweaty armpits, or even higher-than-normal moisture can trigger false alarms and can get you flagged
Therefore, passengers are required to put their belongings like keys, chains, rings, jewelry, liquids, aerosols, gels, hair bands, watches, wallets, smartphones, or anything that requires separate screening is put in a separate tray for separate screening. Because, if body scanners are triggered due to anything, you may be asked for a thorough inspection, and agents may take you on a side or do a pat-down search.
Without further ado, let’s now discuss the type of scanners that are used at Airports for security purposes.
There are two types of scanners luggage scanners and whole-body scanners.
Luggage scanners or baggage scanners are different than body scanners and the complex technology behind these scanners helps the agents to visibly see the contents inside the briefcase or the suitcase.
Luggage scanners are designed to use x-rays to scan luggage contents and calculate the mass and density of contents to establish what the object is.
Nothing can hide from luggage scanners like metallic, non-metallic, gold, or organic materials like paper, food, cocaine, and items are differentiated by color for cocaine, the scanner shows orange color which can raise the suspicion of agents.
These are the original body scanners that contain ionizing radiation but emit low doses of radiation which makes them safe for passengers although there were several lawsuits against TSA for cancer diagnosis among passengers due to scanners. Other than that, the backscatter scanner would reveal a lot of intimate details and would represent a passenger virtually naked in front of the TSOs which is why the machines have now been sacked because the images were too explicit and agents were even sharing those images with others.
Millimeter wave AIT scanners:
Millimeter wave scanners use microwaves for scanning and do not use non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation because of their high frequency. The microwaves are far less than utilized by cellular data transmitters and the diagram shows the electromagnetic spectrum where the left side shows microwaves and the right side shows x-rays that pose health risks.
Millimeter wave scanners are based on Whole Body Image ( WBI ) technology that shows a vague genderless figure of the passengers hiding their private parts/genitals and showing only suspicious parts of the body with a yellow box around that area.
Millimeter wave scanners are not harmless to the human body and also do not invade your privacy which makes the an ideal fit for Airport security checkpoints.
By the way, the difference between both these scanners is that the backscatter scanner takes two pictures; one from the front and one from the back. While the millimeter wave scanner produces only a single image even producing less energy and being the safest one.
Hand-held metal detector: This is a simple type of scanner that is used for searching an infant being held by a parent, followed by a pat-down search.
A transmission scanner is a type of powerful scanner which is known by the name RadPRO SecurePASS and this is a far more powerful scanner than the backscatter scanner because it uses a high rate of radiation. Surprisingly, agents found several men hiding illegal drugs in their bum, stomach, and rectum that this scanner identified, even one person was sent to hospital after his kidney stones were identified in the scanner.
For this scanner, TSA won’t get public acceptance because they are already stuck with controversies of privacy and the health of passengers.
Infra-red thermal conductivity scanners:
The infrared thermal conductivity scanners are not popular but capable to detect objects in the presence of different temperatures and do not use electromagnetic radiation which makes these scanners far safer.
But Airport scanners are safe for pregnancy and pregnant women can easily pass the scanner as the radiations are thousands of time less than a cellular data transmitter that makes no health risk to the baby inside the belly of the mother.