Just a quick story from the annals of crazy things my coworkers say.
It’s true, I’m not generally a huge fan of the body scanner the TSA puts us through at many airports these days. And thanks to friendly advice from the comments in a post about it I now opt out of the low-level radiation if I’m not running late, and ask for the pat down instead. So far, so good. TSA employees have been super gracious when I do.
But I did have a small moment of appreciation for these X-ray machines, when a San Francisco-based coworker of mine—let’s call her Annie—told me how, on a recent work trip from SFO to LAX, she was pulled aside because her skin was, in fact, reading as explosive.
According to Annie’s retelling, the screen of the scanner was displaying red areas on her body that indicate the presence of a dangerous substance. And when they ran that special paper over her skin, and inserted it into the magic machine that detects such substances, it was no fluke: explosive again.
Since I blew the reveal in the title, you know where this is going. Turns out that the fancy cream Annie had recently bagged from a hotel room was indeed explosive enough to turn up on both of these fine testing tools.
While we had a good chuckle at this ludicrous tale of modern-world woes, it’s not really that funny (definitely a little bit, though). Imagine a more enlightened future where we recount these stories to our grandchildren: “Why, of course, we needed X-ray scanners Sonny boy, how else would we be able to detect that terrorists could be packing in their underwear, and that our skincare products may blow up. It’s not like the government was insisting they be tested for safety.” I mean, what the heck.
As for Annie, I’m hoping this was a wake-up call. You can bet I’ll be bringing copies of the book by the office on my next visit to San Francisco.
Anybody else have some crazy explosive cosmetics stories? A certain nail polish comes to mind…
First off, thanks so much for the birthday wishes! As I’ve said in the past, I generally quite like getting older and that’s largely thanks to natural beauty which has, among other things, helped me be more accepting of my maturing self.
Yesterday, on the big day (thanks mum!), I flew to San Francisco for work and some play, something I now do every two weeks or so. I usually enjoy these quick trips, and I’m particularly fond of the fancy SF Terminal 2 I land at where there’s both a great wine bar, restaurants, and a market where you can get kale chips and the best cappuccinos (LAX take note). Not to mention that visiting a different city is always a great way to hit the reset button, make you appreciate your home, your husband, your town, and all that other good stuff.
Now onto the problem: LAX and SFO use those X-ray scanner things, and while I know they’re said to be safe, the bi-monthly exposure has me a little concerned. Forgive me if I don’t always trust what we’re told by the authorities, but the whole chemicals-in-cosmetics thing has turned me into something of a skeptic. I can’t help but wonder: Is this regulation radiation exposure, even if “mild,” maybe doing damage?
A new government report assures that you’d have to pass through the scanner about 12 times a day to reach annual radiation limits. But some light googling leads to plenty of skepticism too, like in this piece on NPR. This quote from David Agard, a biochemist and biophysicist at the University of California, reads like a now-familiar script:
“Many people will approach this as, ‘Oh, it must be safe, the government has thought about this and I’ll just submit to it. But there really is no threshold of low dose being OK. Any dose of X-rays produces some potential risk.”
Then there’s the whole hey-you-can-see-everyone’s-junk thing that raises all kinds of privacy questions, and the fact that their effectiveness has come into question too. And our friends in Europe have banned them—remember, they’ve also banned over a thousand ingredients in cosmetics, while we’ve banned nine. Now, I realize that I’m a little late to this debate, and a coworker of mine had to tell me that I can request the pat-down instead. Done. That’s going to be my move. Why chance it, right? How about you? Does your city use the scan, and if so, do you submit?