The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) evaluated the Smith Detection HazMatID portable Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) system, so as to determine and establish the suitability of this chemical analyzer for use in the identification of forensically relevant chemical compounds.
The HazMatID FTIR system accurately identified illicit drugs when tested in pure form, but results for drug mixtures and other compounds tested were less reliable, depending primarily on the infra-red characteristics of the primary component and on the compound of interest within the sample. The system can be used to qualitatively identify materials such as powders, liquids, pastes, gels, and solids. The instrument is fully portable and easy to transport. The time required from initial instrument setup to collection of the first sample spectrum is approximately 20 minutes. The evaluation concludes that the Smiths Detection HazMatID FTIR can be used to qualitatively identify chemical compounds, including illicit drugs, explosives, TICs, WMDs, and other organic compounds that produce an infra-red spectrum with sufficient discriminating detail. An operator with limited or no chemistry knowledge could easily use this instrument; however, the analyst should be trained to visually compare each potential library "hit" on a chemical and residual peak, in order to ensure accurate identifications are made. For best results, the training should consist primarily of hands-on exercises. Health and safety issues in using the instrument are discussed. 4 tables and photos of the instrument