20

I have recently gotten a barium swallow test for my dysphagia. The radiologist said it would pass in about 3 days. The problem is that I would still have it in my system when traveling to the airport. Would this set any alarms off? If so, how do I prove I'm innocent?

  • 2
    Barium isn't hot, you won't set off any radiation alarms. You basically have a temporary piece of metal inside you, that's all. – Loren Pechtel Jun 21 '17 at 22:39
19

No, a barium meal will not set off alarms.

Lots of security places have radiation detectors, and they are set to detect very low levels of radiation. From personal experience they can detect a "radioactive stress test" a few days after it happens.

However a barium meal is not a "radioactive stress test" and is not significantly radioactive, compared to, say, a banana.

If you are X-rayed at the airport, the residual barium might conceivably show up. A letter from your doctor should be enough to ensure you don't actually 'get in trouble' because of it.

  • 16
    A barium meal does not work through barium being radioactive. It works because barium is radioopaque, meaning that X rays cannot pass through it. The radioactivity of barium is not zero but is extremely low. I am surprised you imply that it can be detected by radiation detectors several days later. Are you sure you don't mean X ray machines? – Level River St Jun 21 '17 at 21:17
  • 6
    @LevelRiverSt is right. Barium is not radioactive (for any practical purpose; Ba-130 comprises 0.1% and has a half-life exceeding a sextillion years, Ba-132 comprises another 0.1% and is "observationally stable", the remaining 99.8% is in non-radioactive isotopes, source here)! No radiation is emitted from the barium. Barium is used as a radiocontrast agent. If the airport takes an X-ray of you, they will see (beside your bones etc.) something opaque inside your digestive tract. – Jeppe Stig Nielsen Jun 21 '17 at 22:06
  • 8
    I apologize, on further investigation it seems that the test I remembered wasn't a barium meal, but a radioactive stress test. If Connor Belli would care to unaccept the answer I will delete it. – DJClayworth Jun 21 '17 at 23:11
  • 2
    I don't think you need to delete it. Just edit. Their machines do use X-Rays, right? So something out of the ordinary could still show up. Getting a doctor's note if you're worried they might have questions could still be good advice. – jpmc26 Jun 22 '17 at 4:09
  • 10
    They don't X-Ray people... Unless OP is travelling inside a luggage. – Antzi Jun 22 '17 at 4:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.