Is a search for exploding breast implants the cause of the huge lines lately at London's Heathrow Airport? That's the rumor being floated on Friday by the Mirror, the Daily Mail, and the Telegraph.
Some people may feel that long lines are simply an enduring nightmare at Heathrow. It's the UK's largest airport and by some measures the third busiest airport in the world.
But the Mirror spoke to an unnamed individual described as a staff member who said the fears were genuine. "[The exploding breast implant scare] led to long queues here at Heathrow -- much longer than usual...But because it's the summer holiday season, no has complained."
I'm not sure that makes sense. It sounds like everybody expected the long lines because it's summer. So no one has actually noticed any unusual delays worth griping about.
But the report goes on to say that Al-Qaeda bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri is believed to have designed a suicide exploding breast implant that contains the powerful explosive PETN. If placed inside someone's body, it couldn't be detected by swabbing for traces of the chemical.
That makes you wonder how the breast implant could be triggered to go off. The Mirror suggested that once the suicide bomber was aboard the plane, she could inject the implant with some second chemical to make the whole thing go blooey.
The Daily Mail repeated much the same claim, with some additional griping that airport security recently missed improvised explosive devices and even knives in tests at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. No breast implants were needed to hide the items. The security staff simply messed up.
So are exploding breast implants a real threat that real airport workers are worried about? Or is it just a slow summer news day in the UK?
It's hard to say. Presumably if it's a real threat, women with recent implant incisions wouldn't be allowed on a plane. So I think we'll start hearing something fairly soon if the rumors are actually true.
You may recall a previous exploding breast implant scare that went around a few years ago. As far as I know, no such breast implants were ever found at a real airport.
The tabloids suggested that extra profiling would be required to cope with the fact that the PETN implants wouldn't be detectable by the usual methods.
Really? Why not fall back on the simple stupid method of using your eyeballs? Recent surgical incisions are pretty frickin' obvious, if you ask me.
I'm skeptical that anybody is going to be walking around with PETN in their body for months or years to mimic a well-healed implant. If somebody's all bandaged up and still wants to travel despite the higher risk of blood clots after recent surgery, then maybe give that person extra scrutiny.
It just doesn't seem that hard to me. But maybe I've missed something. What are your thoughts on the supposedly dire threat of exploding breast implants?
[Heathrow Airport lines file photo by ricoeurian via flickr, creative commons]