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TSA Says Shoe X-Rays Can Detect Bombs

But the Homeland Security Department said in its April 2005 report that the ability of screeners to detect improvised explosive devices "is not a matter of proper training, reinforcement or motivation." The report is titled "Systems Engineering Study of Civil Aviation Security _ Phase I."

The report cited studies that show a person who has made or carried a bomb is likely to have traces of explosives residue on his hand. The report recommended that screeners use a technology called explosives trace detection, or ETD, on the shoes and hands of passengers who arouse suspicion or are randomly chosen for more screening.

ETD is commonly used at airports by TSA screeners, who use a dry pad on the end of a wand to wipe a surface _ baggage, shoes, clothing. They then put the pad into an ion mobility spectrometer that can detect traces of explosives.

The TSA's new screening procedures were ordered after British police last week broke up a terrorist plot to assemble and detonate bombs aboard as many as 10 trans-Atlantic flights from Britain.

Airline passengers can no longer carry liquids and gels into airline passenger cabins. Their carry-on luggage is searched by hand more, and they're subject to random double screening at boarding gates.

On Sunday, the TSA made it mandatory for shoes to be run through X-ray machines as passengers go through metal detectors. The checks were begun in late 2001, after Reid's arrest, and have been optional for several years.


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