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TSA Screening (US Domestic): N-95 Respirator and Tyvek Suit

TSA Screening (US Domestic): N-95 Respirator and Tyvek Suit

Old May 19, 20, 3:06 pm
  #1  
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Post TSA Screening (US Domestic): N-95 Respirator and Tyvek Suit

Hello All! Semi-frequent flyer here. Although I have never made an account, this site has been quite useful! This is my first post!

I couldn't find the answer online and thought you guys could help. Though, please,--i'm not interested in debating coronavirus or its overblown or under-reported coverage, just simply want to figure out a recommendation to give an older family member who is insistent on traveling, US: domestic flights. I have tried my best to persuade my family member otherwise, but have not been successful.

Q: If someone shows up to a TSA screening (not precheck) with full PPE: Tyvek suit, duct taped and doubled nitrile gloves, eye goggles, and a disposable P-100 (3M N-95 style) respirator, what would the screening process look like? So far, all I can glean is that TSA would ask the person to temporarily lower their mask or goggles to verify their identify. Though, I am entirely unsure of the process through the millimeter wave scanner used at most US airports. Would the person need to fully remove their suit and mask? Participate in a full body pat down? Both the Tyvek white suit and mask contain metal components: zipper and nosepiece, respectively. Or are these protocols totally inconsistent across airports? I am trying to put a plan in place to prepare my father as best I can: how many suits/respirators to bring and when to don them etc. Thank you!

Thank you!
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Old May 19, 20, 3:48 pm
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I would suggest to put on the protective gear after passing the security.

The problem is the flight, not airport. There is no need to put on those stuffs and risk contamination during security.
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Old May 19, 20, 3:55 pm
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Unless you are selected for secondary screening and so long as you remove enough face covering to assure that the Officer checking ID can verify that your ID matches, you should be fine unless the PPE itself contains anything which sets off the scanner. If you are selected for secondary inspection, you will have to remove pretty much everything you describe.

Take a look at the TSA website and you will see what you are prohibited from carrying through the checkpoint.

<redacted by moderator>.

Last edited by TWA884; May 19, 20 at 4:16 pm Reason: Off-topic for this thread and forum.
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Old May 19, 20, 4:04 pm
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Probably ought to include adult diapers under that tyvek suit - it would be tough to get out of and back into should nature call.

Also, tyvek suits can get pretty hot, especially if you are talking about being in one for hours. Is your father up to that?
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Old May 19, 20, 5:09 pm
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Has this person ever spent several hours sealed into a Tyvek suit or wearing a properly fitting N95? It's tremendously uncomfortable and can lead to significant dehydration (presumably there will be no eating or drinking). Inexperienced wearers end up doing a lot of adjusting/touching of the face and eyes, which renders the whole thing moot. And in order to get full hazardous materials protection, you'd really need a sealed hood (otherwise the head/ears/neck will be exposed) and a second person to help you don/doff the gear (doffing PPE improperly pretty much redistributes all of the gunk on the PPE back into the environment).
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Old May 19, 20, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Unless you are selected for secondary screening and so long as you remove enough face covering to assure that the Officer checking ID can verify that your ID matches, you should be fine unless the PPE itself contains anything which sets off the scanner. If you are selected for secondary inspection, you will have to remove pretty much everything you describe.

Take a look at the TSA website and you will see what you are prohibited from carrying through the checkpoint.

<redacted by moderator>.
metal zipper and nosepiece would set up the scanner? thanks

Originally Posted by chococat View Post
Has this person ever spent several hours sealed into a Tyvek suit or wearing a properly fitting N95? It's tremendously uncomfortable and can lead to significant dehydration (presumably there will be no eating or drinking). Inexperienced wearers end up doing a lot of adjusting/touching of the face and eyes, which renders the whole thing moot. And in order to get full hazardous materials protection, you'd really need a sealed hood (otherwise the head/ears/neck will be exposed) and a second person to help you don/doff the gear (doffing PPE improperly pretty much redistributes all of the gunk on the PPE back into the environment).
He's spent some summers in Tvek suits when he used to do AC maintenance and also spent time wearing suits + P100 reusable cartridge respirators for mold and fiberglass removal. Though, you are right he has not been properly trained. I have been teaching him what I can. I worked for a brief period of time during a PhD rotation in a BSL-3, but mostly all my work now is done in a BSL-2 to finish grad school. My father is one of those "gung-ho..'merica" types. I definitely do not fall into that category and it has been difficult to talk him into simply avoiding flights. I do believe he will be fine wearing PPE and enduring the ensuing sweat bath. I also do feel confident that I can train him to have some competence in doffing before he starts his several flights mid June.

Still unsure though on the initial question: would this combination of PPE set off the scanner and require additional pat down or PPE removal? What determines if you are selected for a secondary screening in the current situation.

I want to prepare him with how/when to Don PPE and what to expect.

Last edited by TWA884; May 19, 20 at 7:04 pm Reason: FT Rule 14: Merge consecutive posts by the same member
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Old May 19, 20, 6:27 pm
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I've taken several flights over the past several weeks. I can't answer all of your questions, but I'll offer a few observations which might help:

1) I've seen some, though a minority, of travellers wearing N95 masks. You (he) will almost certainly be asked to lower the mask when having ID checked at the TSA checkpoint. When I've used Clear, they've let the mask stay in place. At non-clear airports, they're consistently asking people to lower it.

2) I've seen a (very small) number of travellers in various types of tyvek and other full-body suits. I've seen at least two, off the top of my head use the millimeter-wave scanner while in their tyvek. I didn't stick around to watch either, but I didn't happen to notice either getting pulled in to secondary screening.

I'll share the sentiments of the other posters - I'd give some serious consideration to the necessity of wearing all that stuff and what benefit it might offer. The mask, certainly - but the tyvek suit?
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Old May 19, 20, 6:28 pm
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You seem like a very reasonable guy, and kudos to you for taking care of your family member! As a point of reference, the current hospital standard PPE for a Covid + patient is gown, gloves, surgical mask (not N95), and eye protection (face shield if possible, full unvented googles never). And if someone is doing aerosol generating procedures (intubation, nebs), use an N95 instead of a surgical mask. So, even front-line providers working with actively shedding Covid patients are not using the same level of precaution as you are suggesting. Just FYI.

PS. You can get Tyvek suits with plastic zippers. The nose wire is not as substantial as the underwire in a bra, so probably okay.

Last edited by chococat; May 19, 20 at 6:50 pm
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Old May 19, 20, 11:15 pm
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I'm no expert at all....and the body scan should find most things (I hope). But I just can't imagine TSA letting people through when they're completely concealed head to toe. Maybe in these times they're understanding though. Best of luck and safe travels.
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Old May 20, 20, 10:14 am
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Exclamation Moderator's Note

The Practical Travel Safety and Security Issues forum is the place to request and receive constructive advice to help you travel safely and with minimal hassle.

Please limit your postings in this thread to seeking and offering practical advice and save your commentary and opinions for the Checkpoints and Borders Policy Debate forum.

Future non-informational posts will be summarily deleted without further notice.

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Last edited by TWA884; May 20, 20 at 10:30 am
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Old May 20, 20, 10:27 am
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Hello all-- thank you for your responses!

Thank you Presguy for your observations, those are useful.

Seems hard to find out concrete details about the TSA screening process in regard to this topic. I tried tweeting AskTSA but didn't have much luck either.

thanks!
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Old May 23, 20, 4:59 pm
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Welcome to FlyerTalk Jameswilson133!

I'm a physician seeing office patients and I use surgical mask, sometimes disposable gloves during the exam and it seems to work for me, so I'd think the Tyvek suit and N95 is overkill, not to mention very uncomfortable. I've worn plenty of regular clothing with metal zippers through the security check - no alarms. However there is quite a bit of variability - sometimes my boots set off the alarm, sometimes they don't.
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