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IEC to Develop International Standard for Image Quality of X-Ray Computed Tomography for Security Screening


New U.S.-Chaired IEC Project Team Expected to Draw from 2011 American National Standard

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently approved the proposed development of a new globally relevant standard that will provide guidance in connection with the use of X-ray computed tomography (CT) by security-screening systems, including those used at U.S. airports. This effort will be overseen by IEC Technical Committee (TC) 45, Nuclear instrumentation, Subcommittee (SC) 45B, Radiation protection instrumentation, Project Team (PT) 62945, Computed Tomography (CT) Security-Screening Systems. The U.S.'s Lawrence Hudson, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) serves as the convenor of the new PT, which is scheduled to hold its first meeting in Las Vegas on October 8, 2014.

Since 2004, U.S. airports have been required by federal law to scan all luggage for explosives and other potential dangers, a process usually carried out through the use of X-ray CT scanners. An estimated 2,000 of these scanners are used at 450 airports across the U.S. to inspect a significant portion of the more than 30 million pieces of luggage brought to airports each month by airline passengers. These scanning systems use X-ray CT scans similar to those used in medical imaging to identify potential risks in passenger bags, flagging suspicious luggage for individual inspection by security agents.

The IEC's new PT will focus on the development of a new IEC standard covering the evaluation of image quality of X-ray CT security-screening systems. Experts from the U.S., China, Great Britain, South Korea, Ukraine, Russia, and Germany will take part in the development of this new standard, which has the potential to bolster security, lower costs, and speed up luggage screening times in airports around the world.

The effort is expected to draw heavily on IEEE/ANSI N42.45-2011, American National Standard for Evaluating the Image Quality of X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) Security-Screening Systems, a 2011 American National Standard (ANS) developed by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and accredited standards developer IEEE. Dr. Hudson was involved in the development of this ANS, which provides users with relevant testing procedures and image-analysis algorithms for a variety of image quality indicators, among other guidance.

During an August 2014 summit hosted by NIST, stakeholders involved with the evaluation and compliance testing of CT-related explosives detection systems approved the early revision of IEEE/ANSI N42.45. This revision is intended to take place simultaneously with the development of the new IEC standard in this area, with the goal of harmonizing the two documents.

For more information about the new WG, its proposed work, the revision of IEEE/ANSI N42.45, or to learn how to become involved with these efforts, please contact Dr. Hudson at [email protected].

The U.S. National Committee (USNC) of the IEC, a totally integrated committee of ANSI, serves as the focal point for U.S. parties who are interested in the development, promulgation, and use of globally relevant electrotechnical standards. To learn more about the USNC and its activities, visit its official page. For more information about the IEC, visit


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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