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A Survey of Background Levels of Explosives and Related Compounds in the Environment

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Abstract: 

In this paper, swabings from various public areas in 28 different cities throughout the United States were collected. A wide variety of objects were tested, ranging from park benches and telephones to sign posts and mailboxes. Inorganic anions and cations common in low explosives were detected simultaneously using capillary zone electrophoresis. Organic high explosives including nitroaromatics, nitramines, and nitrate esters were detected using gas chromatography with a pulsed-discharge electron capture detector. Confirmation of selected results was performed by ion chromatography and negative ion chemical ionization GC/MS. In general the results provide two major conclusions: (i) with the exception of nitrate, most low explosive oxidizers are rare in the environment; (ii) no organic explosives or significant interferences to these explosives were detected.
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Keywords: capillary electrophoresis; electron capture; environmental; explosives; forensic science; gas chromatography; inorganic ions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701. 2: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, International Forensic Research Institute, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199.

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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