Answer to Question #10697 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Security Screening — Airport Screening

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q

When shampoos and liquid body washes go through x-ray hand-baggage scanners at airports, does any radioactivity linger in the liquids that would be harmful? I've been abroad for a few months using giant containers from the states, and I just want to make sure that there's no reason for concern.

A

There is no lingering radioactivity in your shampoos or liquid washes (or anything else being scanned).

The x rays that are used to do the screening simply pass through the item being scanned, not causing anything to become radioactive. In some cases, if a material being scanned is dense enough, like a camera or laptop, some of the x rays are stopped by the more dense material, but still do not become radioactive.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 12 June 2013. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.