New Technology Traces Source of Chemical Weapons

I recently ran across an article about a new technology that could one day aid law enforcement agencies in tracing the origins of chemical weapons. "Impurity profiling" is used to identify impurities in a chemical and link it to the source where attackers obtained the ingredients. Up to 88% of impurities in source chemicals may end up in the finished product, acting as a kind of chemical fingerprint.
Researchers correctly identified the source of materials used for two different batches of a nerve agent, using standard lab equipment. The technology "may one day become a basis for using impurity profiling to help find and prosecute perpetrators of chemical attacks," say the researchers.

A full report on impurity profiling appears in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry. Funding for the research came from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In 2010, I wrote about another DHS-funded project to develop technology that enables smart phones to detect dangerous chemicals. It's encouraging to see that DHS continues to support the development and allocate funding for anti- terrorism technologies.

DHS also oversees SAFETY (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) Act certification, passed by Congress as part of the Homeland Security Act. The SAFETY Act provides liability protections for the development and deployment of innovative anti-terrorism technologies and services that could significantly reduce the risks and effects of a terrorist act. Owner operators also benefit from this liability protection by working with technology and solutions providers who are integrators who are SAFETY Act certified.

Ryan Loughin is Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT- He provides security education to CFATS and MTSA-affected companies and is a member of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Associates (SOCMA), Energy Security Council (ESC) and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Loughin has also completed multiple levels of CVI Authorized User training (Chemical- Terrorism Vulnerability Information) which was authored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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