Help? My pump or CGM triggers an explosive residue alarm with TSA

When I travel by air I take off my pump and CGM at security so that they don’t go through the body scanner with me. Sometimes I get lucky and go through the preregistration line where you just have to go through the metal detector. I’ve had my pump (medtronic) and/or cgm (dexcom) alarm sometimes when they check them for explosive residue. (alarm on their system, not my devices themselves) When this happens I have to get a pat down. I hate pat downs. Has anyone else had their pumps or CGMs trigger the alarms on the TSA check? Does anyone know why or why not? I am wondering if it is alcohol residue from waterless hand cleaner on my hands, or something like that? I want to go through the process to get a 5 year preregistration pass so I can avoid pat downs, but I don’t want to worry about the devices triggering pat downs.

I’ve had that happen several times when I was flying for work. I wan’t using any kind of sanitizer when this happened… The guard speculated it may have been triggered by small amounts of insulin residue leaking out from my set.

There was a story a while back about hand soap in an airport bathroom triggering the TSA bomb residue machine. Baby wipes have also been another common culprit.

I wouldn’t worry about it - I’ve flown a ton of times with my pump and never set anything off with the swab machine, and the pat-down is a pain but it doesn’t prevent you from flying.

We’ve used explosive residue detectors on passenger ships… The most likely culprit was almost always diaper rash cream or other lotion type products… (I have no idea why)

Ironically, they detect diaper cream but not gunpowder. I’ve tested that theory several times.

I would be willing to bet it is something you’re putting on your hands and then touching the items with.

Thanks for all the responses, especially the inside info, Sam. I use hand lotion a lot. I now have a plan for travel!

Your CGM must be disconnected, turned off, according to TSA. it transmits a radio frequency, like WiFi Check the literature. Hate to say this, but to protect your pump…taking it off? Does it go through with your carry on through XRay? Invalidates the warranty, although unsure how they prove that.

I travel a lot. To secure the pump, either get the TSA precheck, or get the past down.

I have never had to disconnect or turn off my daughter’s Dexcom CGM, nor would I (without a fight)! Nor have I ever heard of anyone being instructed to disconnect or turn off their CGM…

My hands have flunked several time and I think it is related to hand lotion. I try to remember not to use any lotions before I fly or if I do, wash my hands and wrists. It has always been the swab on my hands that flunked not a swipe on my pump.

I set off the explosives residue alarm once when I requested a pat down. The TSA agents seemed mightily confused and didn’t know what to do with me. They ran the swab test again and the alarm didn’t trigger the second time and they let me know. But I have no idea why it triggered in the first place.

When I started using my original Medtronic CGM, the instruction booklet stated that the transmitter must be disconnected from the insert, and the CGM turned off at the pump. The transmitter sends radio waves, and was banned by FAA.

Just searched FAA and Medtronic. Seems things have changed somewhat. Here is the correct information:

Your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) system is safe for use on commercial airlines. If questioned by airline personnel about use of your Medical Portable Electric Device (M-PED), please show them your airport emergency card. If the airline flight crew still request that you turn off your personal CGM system, you must comply. The CGM transmitter is an M-PED with emission levels that meet RTCA/DO160D Section 21, Category M. Per FAA Advisory Circular #91-21.1B, dated 8/25/2006, any medical portable electronic device (M-PED) that meets RTCA/DO160D Section 21, Category M in any mode “may be used onboard the aircraft without any further testing by the operator.”

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I’ve been through security 3 times now at two different airports and haven’t had to have a pat down!!! This is a huge help to me. I have the TSA precheck now - so just need to go through the metal detector. Before I go through I wash my hands carefully, clean my pump and clean with alcohol wipe to get any lotions off, then wipe with damp paper towel. When TSA wanded the devices no alarms triggered. Thanks so much, Sam19 and other lotion suggesters!


I actually request the pat down rather than go through or take my pump off. Airport security are now quite familiar with pumps and call them by name when you show them. Each time I have been treated with respect and actual compassionate looks as they understand that they are medical devices and unlikely to find explosives or drugs. Usually the pat down is quick and they ask you pleasantries while doing it.

I’m glad that’s working for you.:slight_smile:
I suspect people have different reactions to pat downs based on their personalities and personal histories.

Absolutely @PeggyEllen , I like it because I also hate xrays others may infact hate people touching them so your right its very subjective.

I’ve traveled for years (20 to more times a year) and I’ve had a pump and cgm with me for the last 7 years. I’ve always taken my pump off (T:Slim, Asante and Animas Vibe) and my CGM receiver (Version 3 to current model) and ran through. And never have I had an issue. They’ve never stopped working. And have never set off an alarm of any kind. I’m currently on the OmniPod I let my PDA run through as well with no issue. The Omni is on my and never set anything off either.

I would before going to the Airport make sure to wash your hands and wipe down your pump/cgm equipment. There must be something your coming into contact with that’s getting transferred onto them and setting off the alarm.

TSA has just started a NEW “random selection” process it has nothing to do with anything that makes sense…

You are selected “just because” I only know because I went through it on 4-30-2017 in a “Test Airport in the Mid-West”. After getting home I did research on what had happenED to me with help from a Federal Law Enforcement person. They told me about the program.

The TSA is now run by many different PRIVATE companies and these companies are allowed to do what they want when they want. This type of “selection” was DISCONTINUED as of yesterday 5-4-2017 because of the number of complaints received from passengers. TSA agents were not able to tell you exactly what you tested positive for but you were required to go for a private pat-down and ALL of your carry on was searched by supervisors. They would speak with the airline if it was going to cause you any trouble with them.

Yikes! So it’s discontinued now, Hon?i