Kodak Alaris has posted a detailed warning for film photographers, explaining that the new CT scanners being installed to check carry-on bags across the United States will almost certainly ruin your film, even after a single pass.
The PSA/warning was posted to the Kodak Professional Facebook page, where Kodak Alaris details how they worked directly with the TSA at John F. Kennedy airport to test the new scanners. CT scanners have been used to scan checked luggage for years—which is why Kodak has always recommended you carry it on and request it be hand-checked—but now that they’re being expanded to carry-on luggage as well, the company wanted to better “assess the risk.”
“We brought a small quantity of Portra 400/135 to John F Kennedy Airport in NYC. With the help of TSA representatives the film was put through the new carry on CT scanners from 1-10 times,” writes Kodak. “The film was then evaluated at Eastman Kodak Research facilities. The initial results are not good.”
You can read the full post below, but the gist is that as little as 1 scan “shows significant film fogging,” which only gets worse as the ASA increases above 100.
After reviewing their results, Kodak spoke to the TSA and asked what kind of options might be available to warn passengers. This is their response:
Most x-ray machines used to screen carry-on bags should not damage undeveloped film under ASA\ISO 800. There are a limited number of screening checkpoints that use x-ray equipment that may damage undeveloped film. These airports will have signage in front of the x-ray stating that the x-ray may damage undeveloped film.
If you are traveling with the following types of film, please pack it in a clear plastic bag, remove it from your carry-on bag at the checkpoint, and ask for a hand inspection:
- Film with an ASA\ISO 800 or higher
- Highly sensitive x-ray or scientific films
- Film that is or will be underexposed
- Film that you intend to “push process”
- Sheet film
- Large format film
- Medical film
- Scientific film
- Motion picture film
- Professional grade film
- Film of any speed that is subjected to x-ray screening more than five times
In most cases, the x-ray equipment used for screening checked baggage will damage undeveloped film; therefore, please place undeveloped film in carry-on bags.
Kodak says they’ve taken the TSA’s advice to heart, and will be developing “warning stickers” that can be printed at home and attached to the plastic bag recommended above by the TSA. For now, you’ll need to make your own and be vigilant, because several major US airports are already using CT technology.
To learn more, or see a full list of airports currently using CT to scan carry-on luggage, head over to the TSA website.