May 2005 HelpLine
Airport Security And Digital Files
* Card Safety
* Why Not JPEG For Everything?
* Will My Pixels Be Alive In 2525?
* Increasing File Sizes
Q) I purchased a digital camera and 1 GB card. I took my camera with me on a trip that required travel via airplane; I then noticed that my card wasn't operating properly. The problem continued, so I contacted the manufacturer who was very supportive; they exchanged the card. When the new card arrived, it came in a sealed static shield bag that read: "Do not ship or store near strong electrostatic, electromagnetic, magnetic or radioactive fields." Can the X-ray devices used in airport security affect the cards like they can affect film?
Jeffrey S. Fecher
A) It's difficult to determine what caused your card to fail, but it probably wasn't from the security devices at the airport. In recent testing by the International Imaging Industry Association, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and SanDisk, there was no evidence of X-ray scanner damage to digital camera media cards.
The tests involved media cards and devices from a range of manufacturers that were loaded with a series of images. The cards were subjected to multiple passes through scanners currently used at airports throughout the U.S. After scanning, the image files showed no signs of damage.
In addition, separate tests were conducted using the walk-through metal detectors. Like the X-ray test, no damage to media or images was observed (that goes for handheld metal detectors as well). More information on the testing can be found at www.i3a.org/itip.html.