Airlines and travelers headed to the Sochi Olympics should keep an eye out for toothpaste tubes, which contain chemicals that could be used to construct a bomb aboard a plane, according to senior U.S. security officials.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning on Wednesday, Feb. 5, informing airline companies with direct flights serving Russia of the possibility that explosive materials may be concealed in a cosmetic or oral hygiene containers.
"Any type of explosive, concealed explosive, can be extremely damaging," U.S. Representative Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, told CNN. "This is the type of threat that we're very concerned about."
Another federal source said the intelligence was connected to the arrests of two women of Chechen descent in France. Safety for attendees and athletes has been a key priority for the games, as the head of Olympics assures that the international event will run smoothly.
While there has been no specific threat to the U.S. or Russia, officials are taking the proper steps of communication with domestic and international partners, especially those associated with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which formally start Feb. 7.
For those going to the Olympic Games, the U.S. State Department urges citizens to remain aware of their personal surroundings and exercise good security practices.
If travelers want to stay safe without ditching their hygiene kits, TheraBreath offers travel-sized toothpastes and rinses that are handy for on-the-go situations. These products help ward off cavities and bad breath. In the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration allows small containers of toothpaste that are 3.4 ounces or less in travelers' carry-on luggage, for now at least.
"My prediction is that [the U.S. and Europe] will give a direct order that they'll be removing toothpaste from passengers' hand-carried items" and possibly from checked luggage as well, Glen Winn, a former security director at United and Continental airlines, told CNN.
So, if spectators cannot make it to the Olympics with their toothpaste, they still have their travel rinse, which combats halitosis and keeps gums healthy. Another alternative to maintaining oral health while on?-the-fly is to rinse your mouth out with water after meals to prevent build-up of food debris, and chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol.
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