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Originally published February 11 2012

The end of liquid restrictions for European fliers could be in sight

by Christopher Babayode

(NaturalNews) The European Union has approved the use of an airport liquid scanner, which could replace current technology and see the lifting of restrictions on carrying liquids of more than 100ml on European airlines. The approval for general use of the scanner could come as early as 2013. Trials are currently underway at several European airports. The European Commission, Europe's governing body, is on record as having agreed to a relaxation of liquid restrictions and the introduction of new screening methods by April 2013.

The restrictions came into place after a plot by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda was foiled in August 2006. The plan was to explode airliners over the Atlantic using liquid explosives smuggled on board in hand luggage. Since that time passengers have been subjected to the inconvenience of baggage screening and are routinely forced to bin any containers that do not meet the 100ml rule.

Insight 100 machine can accurately detect liquid explosives

The British-made scanner called the Insight 100 is capable of analyzing one bottle in five seconds. The scanner uses Spatial Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) to analyze the contents of the bottles. SORS uses light to make accurate chemical analysis of objects beneath obscure surfaces. The use of SORS is a departure from other controversial screening methods currently in use at airports. The European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) says the Insight 100 exceeded its Type B Standard 2 requirement and is capable of detecting liquid explosives unambiguously.

The inventor of the SORS technology Professor Pavel Matousek is quoted as saying, "It is particularly exciting to see how this particular scientific development could now go on to make a real difference to the safety and well being of our society." As well as seeing the liquid contents of bottles, the SORS technology can be used to view tissue and bone beneath the skin, so it holds promise in the field of non-invasive investigative health matters.

If the Insight 100 passes the trials it will be a relief to airline travelers from a health standpoint too. Dehydration is a constant concern for fliers, and the liquids ban has done nothing to ease this concern. Travelers will once again be able to meet their own hydration needs without having to rely on limited liquid supplies provided by the airlines.

Sources used for this article include:

C. Eliasson, N.A. Macleod and P. Matousek (2007). "Non-invasive Detection of Concealed Liquid Explosives using Laser Spectroscopy". Analytical Chemistry: 8185-8189. doi:10.1021/ac071383n

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