Radioactive lenses and airports
My thing with airports is not new. I like to fly and I get on an airplane whenever I have the opportunity. There is always some anecdote to tell: something forgotten in a pocket when passing the security arch, an aborted landing at the last second because another plane is crossed on the runway, etc. But this story is quite curious:
My plane had just landed. The typical trip in which one carries a large suitcase and a small cabin bag. I had been offered to leave my cabin bag with the rest of the luggage. So I had to collect everything together.
When I got to the baggage belt I picked up my big suitcase and I waited for my cabin bag. But it did not appear.
Finally, two security agents appeared carrying the suitcase. I thought: surely the suitcase had been lost and these kind gentlemen have brought it back to me. But I was wrong. One of them asked me if that was my suitcase, without offering to return it to me. The other asked me if I had recently undergone any medical treatment, or if I had been exposed to radiation for some reason. After answering NO to everything, I was asked to go with them to a separate room to conduct an examination of the content of the suitcase.
With the suitcase opened, the questions began while they were flying with a Geiger counter over the content of the suitcase. The photo bag whistled. I took out the Mamiya RZ67 and checked it with the detector. I had to disassemble it completely to find out what element radiated. A new pass with the detector identified the lens as the origin of the radiation.
Until that moment, I was unaware of the existence of radioactive lenses. They consulted it and after a while of waiting they took my data and let me go. Before leaving, I asked them if that lens could be any risk for my health. The guards told me that the amount detected was not dangerous to my health, as long as I did not sleep with it close to my body.
The lens was attached to the camera. Both inside a photo bag and inside a rigid Samsonite suitcase. And even so, the radioactive lens was able to blow up the alarm of an airport scanner.
Many articles in the internet talk about whether these radioactive lenses are dangerous to health or not. There is a widespread consensus that they are not. But what they do not tell you is that they ARE able to blow up the airport alarms and make you spend time in a security room answering questions to security agents.
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