Homeland Security and Forensic Analysis

E-Separation Solutions

Being here in New Orleans, which is one of the busiest port cities in the U.S., the topic of Homeland Security seems particularly relevant. So I attended Session 1490, "Homeland Security and Forensic Analysis." It proved to be very interesting.

Well, I'm disappointed to have to say that the make-the-folks-at-home-jealous 80-degree temperatures of the last few days have vanished following last night's intense thunderstorms. But today's sessions at Pittcon certainly weren’t a disappointment. Being here in New Orleans, which is one of the busiest port cities in the U.S., the topic of Homeland Security seems particularly relevant. So I attended Session 1490, "Homeland Security and Forensic Analysis." It proved to be very interesting.

During the session, a wide variety of security-related topics were covered, from detection of counterfeit pharmaceuticals to water security, explosives, and more. Adam Lanzarotta of Miami University, who presented "The Use of Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), Raman Spectroscopy, and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) toward the Analysis of Pharmaceutical Adhesive Labels," discussed the widespread problem of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs and the fact that they often are distributed in containers with very authentic-looking labels. By using IR, Raman, and SEM-EDX to analyze paper compositions and the adhesives used to attach the labels to the bottles, it is often possible to detect these counterfeit drugs. Some advantages of these methods are that there is little or no sample preparation required and the techniques are adaptable to field studies (especially with so many of the smaller FT-IR and Raman detectors that have been introduced this week at Pittcon).

Following this presentation, Frank Inscore of Real-Time Analyzers, Inc., discussed "Water Security: Detecting Chemical Agent Hydrolysis Products by SERS," and the importance of being able to identify chemical warfare agents, pesticides, and toxic industrial chemicals in the water supply quickly and accurately.

The next presentation, by Anthony R. Trimboli of the University of South Carolina, was titled "Validation of Diffuse Reflectance Intrared Spectroscopy (DRIFTS) as a Means to Discriminate Blood from Various Forensically Relevant Substrates." He talked about using DRIFTS to determine the blood concentration in various textiles (such as acrylic, cotton, nylon, and polyester), which is very helpful in crime scene investigations and has the advantage of being a non-contact measurement system.

Bernadette Higgins of the U.S. Naval Research Lab continued to add variety to the session with her presentation of "Development and Optimization of Sorbent Polymer Coatings for Detection of Chemicals and Explosives."

After the break, Amanda L. Jenkins presented "Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Coated SPME Fibers for Enhanced GC-MS Detection of Chemical Agents," and was followed by Scott Lander Grossman of Restek Corporation, who discussed "Gas Chromatographic Analysis of a Peroxide-Based, Nitroaromatic, Nitramine, and Nitrate Ester Explosives on a Revised Explosives-Specific Column Pair. Marguerite Germain of Saint Louis University then presented "Towards the Development of a Self-Powered Explosive Sensor," and the session finished with Ping Chen of Ohio University, who talked about "Classification of Accelerants by Gas Chromatography-Differential Mobility Spectrometry and Temperature Constraint Cascade Correlation Neural Networks." All in all, I'd have to say that this was a very interesting and informative afternoon!