For those who have wondered whether airport x-ray machines negatively affect epinephrine auto-injectors, the folks at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) have looked into it for you. Though research on this topic is scarce, a thorough examination of available evidence turned up no data suggesting epinephrine is compromised by airport x-ray machines since the radiation emitted is minimal – about the same as the ambient radiation we are all exposed to daily.
So, letting our epinephrine auto-injectors go through x-ray machines or security scanners is, according to FARE, one less thing to worry about when traveling. X-ray inspection is also considered safer than a TSA visual inspection where accidental auto-injector activation or damage to the device is possible.
TSA and Medications
Before airport screening begins, travelers are advised to separate their necessary liquids and/or medications from other belongings and let TSA officers know about them, plus any associated accessories (e.g., syringes, freezer packs). Having these items clearly labeled speeds the screening process.
Freezer packs, ice packs, frozen gel packs, or other cooling accessories must be completely solid at the security checkpoint, or they will be screened as a medically necessary liquid. Other supplies such as syringes are required to undergo x-ray screening.
TSA personnel may test liquids for explosives or concealed items and may ask to open containers that do not pass x-ray inspection—though it’s hard to imagine an auto-injector failing to pass. People who do not want liquid medications x-rayed or opened should inform the TSA officer who will implement additional screening procedures.
Once you and your auto-injectors get through airport security, it’s best to always keep your epinephrine with you instead of the plane’s overhead compartment, and make sure your traveling companions know what to do in an allergy emergency.