140 X-RAY DAMAGE TO FILM
May 6, 1998
Photographers who travel need to start hand carrying all their film - both processed and
unprocessed -- so it can be hand inspected at the gate according to the FAA.
They are WARNING that new X-Ray machines, the CTX 5000 and the CTX 5500, manufactured by In
Vision Technologies, are being used to examine checked bag at airports around the world. So
far there is no indication that this equipment is being used to inspect hand carried luggage
at the gates.
Part of the security is not to disclose which airports and which airlines are using this
equipment so potential bombers will have to assume that it is in use everywhere.
This system is the first baggage inspection system to use computer tomography (CT) to screen
airline passenger's checked baggage to detect explosives.
What makes this system unique is that it rotates the x-ray source and detector array around
an object to create cross sectional images of a luggage. With up to 500 views per slice, it
can accurately measure the physical characteristics of each object, regardless of its shape
or location within the luggage. The CTX 5500 can screen up to 400 bags per hour.
By using dual energy x-ray systems it can determine the atomic number of materials
encountered during the scan. It yields more data of higher quality and makes it possible
independently analyze each object in a luggage.
According to a Photographic and Imaging Manufacturers Association (PIMA) report, it is no
longer safe to place unprocessed film in checked baggage.
The PIMA conducted four experiments with the CTX 5000SP. Two of the four experiments showed
serious damage to the film including a 1cm wide line of high density on all emulsion speeds
tested (100, 200, 400, 800, 1000) and unacceptable degrees of film fog.
Recently, a crew working for British director David Attenborough found there film fogged
after returning from filming birds in Papua New Guinea and the CTX-5000 was suspected,
although there had been no definite confirmation.
The only way to be sure your film does not pass through one of these machines is to keep it
with you at all times and insist that it be hand inspected.