The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, Chemical and Biological Division (CBD) has issued a new Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) seeking innovative science and technology to support forensic analysis of chemical agents.
While many studies have been conducted to identify and characterize various chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, there have been only limited studies to identify and exploit Chemical Attribution Signatures (CAS) for the purpose of identifying the threat’s source in support of law enforcement and intelligence gathering efforts.
This BAA focuses on improving CAS capabilities for the purpose of recovering and associating samples collected at chemical events with each other and with their source. CAS consists of impurities, un-reacted precursors, additives, by-products, physical and chemical characteristics, and other anomalies that persist in the chemical agent or its degradation products that can be used for forensic purposes. Attribution evidence may also derive from materials imparted to the chemicals from the synthesis vessels or containers.
The forensic exploitation of CAS requires that advanced studies be conducted to assess specified blood, nerve, and blister agents and precursors as well as toxic industrial chemicals of concern. Proposals are sought which optimize methods and analytical techniques for conducting such comprehensive analyses of samples for source determination and association with other samples.
The BAA also seeks to optimize techniques for sample collection and preservation of different types of CAS at chemical incident scenes to stabilize the samples and minimize derivative chemistry and degradation.
Specific areas of interest under sample collection include: best methods for sampling from different substrates common to buildings and mass transit venues; optimal containers for chemical sample evidence storage and transport; prioritization of materials or surfaces for sampling at an incident due to efficiency in retaining CAS; broad-based best practice sampling techniques for unknown chemical threats; and development of spray-type, tape lifts, rollers or peel products that provide simpler sampling.
According to DHS, approaches that apply to a group or class of chemicals are preferred over those that address only a particular agent, and consideration should also be given to both destructive and non-destructive analysis methods. The agency further advises that recovery and analysis of CAS from biological and botanical samples, such as from biomarker analysis, are not within the scope of this BAA.
Further details are available under BAA13-007. The current response deadline is January 25, 2013.