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Chemical Threat Forensic Attribution Signature Studies

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Chemical Threat Agent Forensics

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now accepting white papers for chemical attribution signature studies for chemical threat agents as part of the effort to deter criminal and terrorist chemical attacks and strengthen the law enforcement response to such an act.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) supports next generation and novel technologies to characterize biological and chemical threat agents for source attribution in support of FBI and NBFAC requirements in a criminal investigation. These include novel technologies to characterize the organism, the agent, or the sample matrix.

There have been many studies conducted over the years to identify and characterize various chemical threat agents. However, there have been only limited studies to identify and exploit Chemical Attribution Signatures for the purpose of source and synthetic route attribution in support of law enforcement and intelligence gathering efforts.

Chemical Attribution Signatures (CAS) include the following:

  • Impurities (persistent contaminants directly attributable to source materials)
  • Un-reacted precursors and starting materials
  • Additives
  • Side products created during precursor synthesis CAS from Process (products of side reactions)
  • Reaction by-products formed by the interaction of two or more primary reagents
  • Reaction by-products formed by the interaction of an impurity or contaminant with a primary reagent that was intended to be part of the process
  • Reaction by-products formed by the interaction of two impurities, the reaction of two contaminants, or the reaction of an impurity and a contaminant
  • Impurities (persistent contaminants directly attributable to processing (equipment and handling) CAS from Decomposition or Degradation
  • Degradation products
  • Decomposition products
  • Hydrolysis products
  • Physical/chemical characteristics (isotopic ratios, isomers, etc.)

The qualities that make CAS useful for forensic purposes include:

  • Variability and uniqueness (not ubiquitous)
  • Highly reproducible
  • Easily detectable
  • Stable (insensitive to conditions)

CAS provides technical chemical information that complements and supplements information derived from traditional forensic processing. CAS may have forensic significance on the basis of their presence, absence, or relative intensity and can be used to associate samples and contaminated evidence recovered at chemical incident scenes with people, places and other events.

It is anticipated that approximately $1.6 million of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funds will be available for any resultant awards under this BAA Call.

Further details are available via Solicitation Number: HSHQDC14RB0009OBAA14003Call9. The white paper response deadline is June 5, 2015.

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