Logan to use New Handheld Scanner that Tests Liquids

Logan International Airport will begin pilot testing today of a new handheld scanner that can detect liquid explosives in sealed, carry-on bottled liquids.

Transportation Security Administration screeners will use the Fido PaxPoint liquid threat detector for random tests at the seven-lane international security checkpoint at Logan's Terminal E.

``The technology will be used primarily to test liquids such as medications, baby formula and breast milk, because these items are brought through the checkpoint in larger quantities than 3 ounces,'' said Ann Davis, Northeast spokeswoman for the TSA.

Following a thwarted U.K. airline bombing plot last August, the TSA implemented new regulations for liquids, gels and aerosols in passengers' carry-on luggage.

Logan was allocated one scanner for testing, but could receive a second by this fall, Davis said. On Tuesday, the TSA reported the devices have performed well during testing at select U.S. airports, and it anticipates deploying up to 200 at the busiest airports by October.

Testing of the scanner is not expected to have any impact on passenger wait times at the Logan security checkpoint, Davis said.

``They are able to clear a bag, if there's no threat there, typically in less than a minute,'' said Mark Trather, explosive-detection business manager at ICx Technologies Inc., the Washington, D.C., maker of the device. ``The response of the sensors is nearly instantaneous.''

The Fido Paxpoint works by drawing vapor from a sealed bottle of liquid into the sensing portion of the device. The vapor is ``interrogated for threats,'' and a screen on the device displays the results.

``You don't have to open the bottle,'' Trather said. ``That's really the advantage that this equipment has.''

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