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Tape Lift Sampling of Chemical Threat Agents

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Commercial‐off‐the‐shelf (COTS) materials were evaluated as surface samplers for the Department of Homeland Security Chemical Forensics Program. The program helps evidence collectors identify trace chemical residues at incident scenes. COTS items are widely available, produced in large lots, and with strict controls. Chemical attribution signatures were collected from common surfaces. Eight tape lift candidates were considered, five were chosen based on performance and tested for analytical interferences and extraction efficiencies with 14 chemicals. Three products (duct tape, print lifters, command strips) were evaluated for uptake from common interior surfaces (glass, tile, ABS plastic). Duct tape provided highest recoveries across all surfaces. Even the most volatile analytes were detected in the ABS plastic samples (nondetections in others), regardless of tape lift material used. The porous plastic substrate provides better target retention than glass and tile surfaces. Forensic field operators should sample surfaces made of ABS plastic (keyboards, remotes, phones, etc.) whenever possible.
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Keywords: chemical signatures; duct tape; forensic science; precursors; sample collection; surface wipe

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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