Monday, September 7, 2009

Toothpaste terrorism

When traveling abroad in the United States, if you fly and carry your personal hygiene items in your carry-on bag, there are limitations to what you can carry. Apparently, liquids, gels, and pastes are forbidden substances, if they're not in a clear bag. Because the clear bag makes all the difference in the world when preventing a terrorist attack.

I had no idea that toothpaste was considered a dangerous substance, or a liquid. On a recent flight to Dallas, I had my hygiene items in my travel case, a Wal-Mart bag, and thought that was sufficient. I was wrong.

The top-notch, highly-trained and educated Homeland Security agency, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, screened my bag and then decided that it warranted further searching. One of their crack agents had noticed that I had an unsecured tube of toothpaste not in the clear plastic bags. My bag was searched and the offending tube was removed and the TSA agent eyed my warily, "This tube is larger than 3.4 ounces and you are not allowed to bring it on a flight."

Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate that there are measures in effect to protect our nation and keep air travel safe, I really do - but toothpaste?! Maybe I should have done a science fair project where I blew something up using Crest Whitening Mint flavor paste instead of baking soda and vinegar. I probably would have gotten something more than just a "Participant" ribbon.

After further research, I found that toothpaste actually does contain an explosive ingredient - propylene glycol, which "becomes deadly when added to a mixture of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids creating the liquid explosive called metriol trinitrate, which is similar to nitroglycerine."

For now, I use a mini-tube (3.4 ounces) of toothpaste, hoping to show the government that I am not in fact a terrorist, but rather a dentally concerned citizen. Maybe next time, TSA should be on the lookout for nitric and sulfuric acids instead of my toothpaste.


Brian said...

This is exactly why I forsake toothbrushing altogether when traveling or on vacation. The government has made a choice: airplane safety is more valuable than preventing tooth decay. I will abide by that choice.

Brian said...

From a different Brian: The rule is liquids, gels and aerosols

Check this out -

Demex 400 is basically high-explosive (normally RDX-based, mixed with a plasticizing agent) which is put into a calking gun or a toothpaste-type tube and extruded as necessary. This makes for a very controlled application of explosive which is more precise and more powerful than primercord. Demex 400 makes a good cutting charge for thinner materials, as well as a breaching explosive for certain walls or to blow out windows. It is detonated by blasting cap or primercord. The damage and penetration statistics below are for a 1-meter, one line application of Demex 400. Some other countries probably also have similar explosive to Demex 400.

Shannon said...

Wow, thanks to Brian for that detailed explanation. I will never question the toothpaste rule again. What will these hooligans think of next? Not even our oral hygiene is safe anymore. And I mean that in the most un-sarcastic way possible.

p.s. just tried out my first p90x workout and it I feel slimmer and stronger already! Work out is an understatement. Thanks for letting us borrow them!