The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased the use of explosive trace detection (ETD) technology at airports across the nation to enhance existing levels of security.

TSA’s acting administrator Gale Rossides said ETD technology is a critical tool in staying ahead of evolving threats to aviation security.

“Expanding the use of this technology at checkpoints and at departure gates greatly enhances security to keep the travelling public safe,” Rossides said.

For two weeks, the TSA has piloted the use of ETD technology in checkpoint queues as well as boarding areas at various US airports.

The ETD technology pilot programme was undertaken at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Pitt-Greenville and Coastal Carolina regional airports in North Carolina.

Security personnel at the airports will use the ETD technology to test for explosives by swabbing a piece of luggage or a passenger’s hands. The screening swab will then be placed inside an ETD unit to examine the contents for any presence of potential explosive residue.

To date, the TSA has awarded contracts worth $15m as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act fund to acquire 400 fixed ETD units.

The US government has also prioritised the purchase of nearly 800 portable ETD machines worth $39m in the fiscal year 2011 budget.