Do X-Rays Harm My Film?

Just a brief note to inform you about the problems many of our customers are having at airports relative to film inspection using x-rays.

The need to thoroughly inspect all parcels is understood in light of recent terrorist activities. International travel is especially taxing because international airports are becoming less and less receptive to permitting hand inspection, primarily because of the volume of people that pass through these airports on a daily basis.

Therefore, there are some things the air traveler with film should know.

The once popular lead-lined carry bags aren't practical today because if an inspector can't see through the bag, he will increase the intensity of the x-ray until he can. Therefore, film may receive more harmful radiation than it would otherwise if it were normally inspected.

Checked baggage x-rays are more powerful than carry-on inspection x-rays so, if possible, always carry your film and ask for hand inspection. When carrying motion picture film, also carry a changing bag so the inspector can put their hands in the bag and inspect the film. If inspectors refuse to hand-inspect, at least the amount of radiation the film receives will be less than if it were shipped as checked baggage.

The slower the film speed, the better. EI 50 is safer than EI 500

Radiation effects are cumulative, so the more x-ray inspections, the more damage. Direct routing is smarter than indirect routing.

Another possible way to get raw stock through inspection would be if the film were taken out of a metal can, and placed in a light-tight plastic container, it may be possible to carry it through the walk-through metal detector. Of course, the security people may still insist on hand inspection, fearing non.metallic weapons or bomb material could be in the sealed plastic container. But if they allow simple metal detection, this would avoid any exposure to x-rays or any need to open the container.

Finally, if all the aforementioned is impractical, a commercial carrier such as Federal Express or DHL will ship film without x-raying it. They will, however, inspect it carefully by hand.