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  1. #1

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    Question HazCat and Chemical Warfare Test Kits

    I am working for a city utility that is looking to purchase some field test kits. The testing is more for water samples but they were looking at HazCat and various Chemical Warfare test kits. It's hard to get a clear idea of how easy to use and reliable these kits are by just talking to the vendors. I was hoping someone had some insight they could share. Or if anyone has any further suggestions for site characterization and unknown sample characterization. Thanks.


  2. #2
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    My two cents worth. It all comes down to time and money.

    Hazcatting is a good method but it takes time and practice. We still use [I]have[I] it in our company but our newest toy is the SmithKliene Detector.

    The one we bought has a library in it and it can learn/be taught new chemicals. They are pricey, (`120K) but I can ID an unknown in 30 seconds. It give me the IR Spec of the component and compares it to it the close matches. It does not do protein, so that is a limitation.

    Anthony

  3. #3
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    Cool Water testing of WMD's

    W1SD0M,

    It sounds like you have been given no direction as to what your boss wants. Are you testing the water for impurities or are you testing the headspace for vapors? If you are trying to test for ppm levels of contaminants in water, the generic "all inclusive" chemical test kits won't work, including Hazcating. If you want to test for lead, arsenic, pcb's, etc. there are specific kits for each chemical that are not very expensive. If you want to test for "everything" chemical down to ppm levels, the only way to go is a GC-MS (gas chromatograph mass spectroscopy) that will run in excess of about $130k. The IR (infrared) spectroscopy units will be useless to you because they get blinded by water and cannot identify ppm levels. There are no great field usable bio instruments (technology limited, not bad instruments), but there are some great test kits that will tell you if you have something bio, but again, you are usually talking about sampling white powders, not ppm levels in water.

  4. #4
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    Hey HazmatTony

    I have not used our Smithklein in our while, but I think that can remove the water from the equation. It does not tell you PPM.

    At least that is what I remember.

    Anthony

  5. #5
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    Default IR instruments

    Anthony,

    You got it. The IR does have the capability to remove water, however, those are usually sales people who tell us that. The reality is that because water has such a dominant spectra in IR, it can hide other chemical signatures, or at a minimum, make it much less reliable when you do use subtraction to identify the remaining chemical(s). It will usually be reflected in the low "hit quality" number most IR instruments present. Spectroscopists (I am not one) will tell you that simple spectra subtraction is not reliable for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Raman spectroscopy instruments are a much beter option for identifying chemicals in water because the water is invisible to these instruments (the downside is that they heat up dark solids). If you put 3% Hydrogen peroxide on a Raman instrument, it will give you a great hit for hydrogen peroxide. If you put that on an IR instrument, I doubt you will never see the hydrogen peroxide, even if you use the subtraction.

    Tony

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by HazMatTony View Post
    Anthony,

    You got it. The IR does have the capability to remove water, however, those are usually sales people who tell us that. The reality is that because water has such a dominant spectra in IR, it can hide other chemical signatures, or at a minimum, make it much less reliable when you do use subtraction to identify the remaining chemical(s). It will usually be reflected in the low "hit quality" number most IR instruments present. Spectroscopists (I am not one) will tell you that simple spectra subtraction is not reliable for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Raman spectroscopy instruments are a much beter option for identifying chemicals in water because the water is invisible to these instruments (the downside is that they heat up dark solids). If you put 3% Hydrogen peroxide on a Raman instrument, it will give you a great hit for hydrogen peroxide. If you put that on an IR instrument, I doubt you will never see the hydrogen peroxide, even if you use the subtraction.

    Tony
    Tony

    Thanks for the info. I now know the next test for our SmithKlein. Once done, I will give you the results.

    Thanks!
    Anthony

  7. #7

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    Default Response to raman instruments

    Anthony is right regarding the use of raman-based instruments, water is not "seen" by these instruments, so you can often see low quantities of materials dissolved in water. However, Anthony, did not give you the rest of the story. Out of the 1,000,000 or so chemicals out there, there really are not that many that produce a raman spectrum, AND the raman spectra are so weak that it takes a powerful laser and/or powerful detector to effectively take the data needed to give a reliable match to the library (assuming that there are large, quality libraries out there). The strong laser heats up, destroys, and/or ignites some darker samples (gunpowder). Field samples are far different than those prepped and run in the lab. One of the raman vendors claims it will identify 5 components from a mixture. I have run repeated 2- and 3-part mixtures (not the ideal ones the salesman brought) and have yet to have it hit conclusively. As with IR, GC/MS, PID, IMS, or classic wet chemistry, raman is simply a tool that can be used fairly easily, that may or may not give you an additional result. The key is using your interpretation skills or calling your local confirmatory lab for advice before thinking you've got a sample id'd in the field.

  8. #8
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    Could somebody post a web site for the Smithkleine detectors. I would like to check them out. Is this comparable to the Smith's HazMat ID?

    Thanks and be safe out there!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan5871 View Post
    Could somebody post a web site for the Smithkleine detectors. I would like to check them out. Is this comparable to the Smith's HazMat ID?

    Thanks and be safe out there!
    Bryan

    I believe they are one in the same.

    Anthony

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