Washington: Scientists are striving to develop technology for “fingerprinting” and tracing the origins of chemical substances that could be used in terrorist attacks and other criminal acts.
Bethany Halford, C and EN senior editor, focuses on an emerging field known as chemical forensics, where the goal is to use the technology of chemistry to trace weaponised toxic substances and related materials back to their source.
A chemical forensic analysis could, for instance, show that ingredients in a terrorist``s weapon were produced in a specific factory. Criminal investigators then could check sales records to determine exactly who purchased those ingredients.
The article explains that the research in the field has expanded substantially during the last few years due mainly to funding from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chemical Forensics Program.
With this research, DHS and chemical forensic scientists are sending messages to the public and to would-be terrorists, the article notes. DHS wants the public to know that the agency is preparing for future attacks, and terrorists to be aware that science is preparing to nab them if they do attack.
The study has been published in Chemical and Engineering News (C and EN).