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Using Mass Spec to Detect Trace Explosives

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The importance of protecting a country’s border is a very topical issue. The war on drugs and terror is a 24/7 task 366 days a year (2016 is a leap year). The government agencies in charge must be vigilant and maintain instrumentation to prevent terrorism, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities. Mass Spectrometry is rapidly becoming the instrument of choice for border agencies throughout the world when it comes to explosive trace detection and forensic drug compounds.

In a recent paper in the Journal of Forensic Science1, a comprehensive evaluation using Mass Spectrometry for the trace detection of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, C-4, Semtex-H, Datasheet, and HMTD was conducted.

The technology employed in this study was a SCIEX API 3200™ System Mass Spectrometer coupled with the Scentinel system, a thermal desorption and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) source, engineered by the trace forensic analysis experts at Mass Spec Analytical based in Bristol, United Kingdom. The unique feature of this technique is that it is a chromatography-free analytical solution. There is no need for intensive sample prep or LC gradient. The sample is introduced to the source and produces a response in a very short period. The findings of this evaluation concluded that,“The direct analysis by mass spectrometry using the Scentinel transformed the traditional day-long quantification analysis of solvent extraction chromatography to minutes, eliminated sample loss, and allowed the transfer efficiency to be quantified for every test surface used.”

The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) requirement for testing explosives detectors is just one such application that could be carried out using this configuration. For more information on the forensic drug screening visit and discover more about the forensic drug screening services from Mass Spec Analytical.

The latest solution for forensic analyte testing from SCIEX is the X500R QTOF System, an instrument that has been specifically engineered based on the requirements of forensic scientists throughout the world. To accompany the SCIEX OS software we have produced a comprehensive acquired High-Resolution Mass Spec Library, click here for more information about a free trial and XIC list.

1.Tam, M.; Pilon, P. and Zaknoun, H. of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) entitled “Quantified explosives transfer on surfaces for the evaluation of trace detection equipment”

For research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

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