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HAPSITE (registered trademark) Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) Variability Assessment

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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The need for rapid response chemical detection instruments has received a great deal of attention in the post-September 11 world Belke, 2004. It is critical that first-response personnel be able to characterize the chemical hazards associated with a response. A military response, accident or act of terror is already a stressful situation but the situation becomes much more challenging in an uncharacterized chemical environment that involves chemical warfare agents CWA or toxic industrial chemicals TIC. Gas ChromatographyMass Spectrometry GC-MS technology can provide the ability to characterize and identify unknown chemicals during an emergency situation. Identifying unknown chemicals enables authorities to take more precise steps necessary to protect the population and incident responders for the specific hazard. GC-MS provides the ability to quantify the concentration of the chemicals present and thus the specific health risk posed by the chemicals Nation Institute of Justice, 2000. In the past, GC-MS systems were operated only in a controlled laboratory setting where wet chemistry procedures could be performed and bulky supplies such as compressed gas cylinders were readily available. The traditional sampling and analysis methods, using lab based GC-MS, function well for, non-emergency situations but are too time consuming when information is needed quickly. With the traditional method, extensive time is required to collect the unknown air sample onto a sorbent media typically a tube filled with activated charcoal, package and ship the sample to a lab for analysis. There is a need to take the GCMS technology into the field for rapid chemical identification at a response scene.

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