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Old Jul 9, 12, 11:01 am   #1
 
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Investigation into TSA non-dipping test strips

I would like to try to do an investigation on the seemingly magical TSA strips that can detect explosives after being waved over liquid flasks. Data I have found are:

A picture of the product on slide 12 of these presentation (powerpoint download alert). Can anyone enhance the image to see something on that label?

The strips should be held above the flask for 5 seconds (same presentation).

After being held over the flask, strips are "developed" with a few drops of distilled water (info from TSO Dean).

Reading is a simple visual change in the strip.

Anyone else have any more information on these tests? Maybe we can solve a mystery together! Or maybe they really are magical...
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Old Jul 9, 12, 11:19 am   #2
 
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That is a very interesting find. Good work!

Now, I don't want to derail this very excellent thread.

However, look at Slide 10 where it clearly indicates TSA is looking for, among other things, "narcotics".

And at Slide 14 which indicates the NoS is the best device to look for guns, explosives, drugs, and money.

It would seem to me that these machines violate the administrative search doctrine, no?

As to the request, I'm sorry, I tried blowing up the text and couldn't read it. I'll try and see if I can display this on the big screen later today.

For future reference, where did you find this gem?
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Old Jul 9, 12, 11:19 am   #3
 
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Vial just says "SAMPLE TEST", "Expires May something", "50 Strips"
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Old Jul 9, 12, 11:52 am   #4
 
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I did two additional things:

1. I ran the briefing in slide show mode. Slide 14 has a bunch of fly-ins. It shows that drugs and money can be detected by: trace portals, pat-downs, and pornoscanners. So, the puffers really WERE used to find drugs! (Anybody surprised?)

2. I pulled up the briefing in "notes pages" thinking I might find some speaker notes of interest. There was nothing there, except for a couple of slides:

Slide 5 -- I'll bet we never knew that the TSA created this crap in order to make us "calm" when being groped and irradiated:

Quote:
The Diamond Self Select concept was created with the intent to calm down the security checkpoint environment. Separating expert passengers from the casual passengers and families results in a less stressful and more efficient process, thus creating the desired calm environment. Additionally, by placing Passenger Engagement TSOs in the front of the queue, passengers not only receive face-to-face guidance from a TSA representative on choosing the appropriate lane but also an education on divesting; thus increasing efficiencies in the screening experience.
Slide 18: The speaker was supposed to mention SPOTNiks as a key element of "layered security."

I wonder why there was no mention of the Cancer Boxes?
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Old Jul 9, 12, 12:00 pm   #5
 
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Test Strips

Do you know if the pH test strips are immersed in an aqueous solution prior to test "air test?"

If they are dry, I'm pretty sure there is testing for air dry samples of pH test strips in vapors. They obviously use a different color chart than aqueous tests, and are less accurate...but what does that matter when related to security theater? It's the mere appearance that you are testing that counts.
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Old Jul 9, 12, 1:02 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by Ysitincoach View Post
Do you know if the pH test strips are immersed in an aqueous solution prior to test "air test?"

If they are dry, I'm pretty sure there is testing for air dry samples of pH test strips in vapors. They obviously use a different color chart than aqueous tests, and are less accurate...but what does that matter when related to security theater? It's the mere appearance that you are testing that counts.
These are not pH strips. They claim them to be similar to pH strips, and to detect "explosives" without immersion into the liquid, just by being waved above it. That is the precise reason I wanted to try to find out more about them. Seems pretty magical to me...
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Old Jul 9, 12, 1:04 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Combat Medic View Post
Vial just says "SAMPLE TEST", "Expires May something", "50 Strips"
Seems to me there was a lot number of some sort, which could concievably be traced, at least in tems of format...
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Old Jul 9, 12, 2:48 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
These are not pH strips. They claim them to be similar to pH strips, and to detect "explosives" without immersion into the liquid, just by being waved above it. That is the precise reason I wanted to try to find out more about them. Seems pretty magical to me...
I don't think it's as magical as logic would make us believe. They've done dry vapor tests since the 60s when dealing with chemicals, acids, all the nasty stuff that would explode.
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Old Jul 9, 12, 2:57 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by Ysitincoach View Post
I don't think it's as magical as logic would make us believe. They've done dry vapor tests since the 60s when dealing with chemicals, acids, all the nasty stuff that would explode.
While the lab student was drinking the substance as a "secondary" experiment?
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Old Jul 9, 12, 3:11 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Ysitincoach View Post
I don't think it's as magical as logic would make us believe. They've done dry vapor tests since the 60s when dealing with chemicals, acids, all the nasty stuff that would explode.
A chemical solution containing explosives volatile enough to reach detectable levels on a test strip would be very volatile and unstable indeed (and certainly not peroxides, which seem to be the primary fear of the TSA and are not even remotely volatile enough to be detected by test strips in the air above). Besides, developing test strips with water is beyond believability. It suggests to me these are original dipsticks that are being used in an alternate (and useless) fashion. But I may be wrong, and the idea of this thread is to try to find out.

By the way, as discussed, here, I detect peroxides for a living.
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Old Jul 9, 12, 3:38 pm   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barbell View Post
That is a very interesting find. Good work!

Now, I don't want to derail this very excellent thread.

However, look at Slide 10 where it clearly indicates TSA is looking for, among other things, "narcotics".

And at Slide 14 which indicates the NoS is the best device to look for guns, explosives, drugs, and money.

It would seem to me that these machines violate the administrative search doctrine, no?
I've been saying this for quite a while now. It's about drugs, not terrorists.
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Old Jul 9, 12, 4:56 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
A chemical solution containing explosives volatile enough to reach detectable levels on a test strip would be very volatile and unstable indeed (and certainly not peroxides, which seem to be the primary fear of the TSA and are not even remotely volatile enough to be detected by test strips in the air above). Besides, developing test strips with water is beyond believability. It suggests to me these are original dipsticks that are being used in an alternate (and useless) fashion. But I may be wrong, and the idea of this thread is to try to find out.

By the way, as discussed, here, I detect peroxides for a living.
Gotta buy or steal a tester and prove your point :-)
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Old Jul 10, 12, 4:19 am   #13
 
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Originally Posted by Ysitincoach View Post
Gotta buy or steal a tester and prove your point :-)
Hard to buy something without knowing what it is, which is what I really want to know. They certainly look a lot like ordinary dipsticks. The thing about dipsticks, though, is that they require dipping...
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Old Jul 10, 12, 6:06 am   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
After being held over the flask, strips are "developed" with a few drops of distilled water (info from TSO Dean).
and where is this "developing water" coming from ? Is the TSO carrying it, and who should be waving test strips over it to test it ? Is that the passenger's responsibility in the name of safety, or do we need an entirely new federal agency to be developed to handle this clear potential threat to aviation security ? Maybe we can release some felons early for this task, since all the pizza deliverers are now busy at airports doing other things.
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Old Jul 11, 12, 2:31 am   #15
 
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Originally Posted by cynicAAl View Post
and where is this "developing water" coming from ?
It seems that TSOs are walking around with flasks of distilled water. Maybe it makes them look important, especially if they are > 100 mL...
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