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Guidelines for the Identification of Unknown Samples for Laboratories Performing Forensic Analyses for Chemical Terrorism*

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Abstract:  Since the early 1990s, the FBI Laboratory has sponsored Scientific Working Groups to improve discipline practices and build consensus among the forensic community. The Scientific Working Group on the Forensic Analysis of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism developed guidance, contained in this document, on issues forensic laboratories encounter when accepting and analyzing unknown samples associated with chemical terrorism, including laboratory capabilities and analytical testing plans. In the context of forensic analysis of chemical terrorism, this guidance defines an unknown sample and addresses what constitutes definitive and tentative identification. Laboratory safety, reporting issues, and postreporting considerations are also discussed. Utilization of these guidelines, as part of planning for forensic analysis related to a chemical terrorism incident, may help avoid unfortunate consequences not only to the public but also to the laboratory personnel.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Homeland Security Research Center, 26 West Martin Luther King Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45268. 2: US Food and Drug Administration, Forensic Chemistry Center, 6751 Steger Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45237. 3: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Forensic Science Center, PO Box 808, L-178, Livermore, CA 94551. 4: Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory, 2501 Investigation Parkway, Quantico, VA 22135. 5: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, MS-3030, Morgantown, WV 26505. 6: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Forensic Services, 621 Academy Road, Winnipeg, MB R3NOE7. 7: Department of Defense, US Army, RDECOM, 5183 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD 21010-5424. 8: US Environmental Protection Agency, National Enforcement Investigations Center, Building 25 Box 25227, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225. 9: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 5183 Blackhawk Road, Bldg E3401, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD 21010. 10: US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training, Forensic Operations Program, Building 25 Box 25227, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225.

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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