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Instrument Standards for Detection of  Hazardous Chemical Vapors


The overarching goal of this project is to develop and disseminate measurement tools to improve the accuracy and reliability of chemical measurements related to homeland security, e.g. measurements of toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), toxic industrial materials (TIMs), and chemical warfare agents (CWAs). To address these needs, NIST is developing new reference methods, reference data, and ultimately new ASTM methods to improve the comparability of chemical measurements throughout the first responder communities.


The intended impact is to improve public health and safety through more effective chemical threat detection achieved by accurate and reliable identification of chemical contaminants and the contamination level.

The objective is to provide measurement capabilities to assist independent evaluation of chemical detectors, thus providing end users and government agencies with key decision tools for both equipment procurement and program planning to develop next generation capabilities.

NIST is developing new test methods, reference data and new reference methods to improve the evaluation of chemical detectors used by first responders. Currently, there are very limited numbers of NIST standard reference materials that are appropriate for chemical detector testing and certification. The lack of reference materials is in part due to the reactive nature of the toxic industrial chemicals which makes it difficult to deliver the reference materials by conventional methods. Additionally, there is a great need to certify the detector performance under more realistic conditions where environmental interferents impact the chemical measurements.

In-situ optical probes and test methods are being developed to directly monitor the test vapor streams in real-time, thus providing a mechanism to track the composition of the test vapor streams at the point of the detector tests. Additionally, ultra-sensitive optical methods are being developed to validate test streams at with low analyte concentrations to support the detection of chemicals with high toxicity at concentration levels associated with the onset of health hazards.

Major Accomplishments:

  • Completed a quantitative assessment of a drop-on demand ink-jet system for generating trace vapors.
  • Validated performance of commercial CWA detectors

Start Date:

October 1, 2007

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:



Pamela M. Chu
Kurt. D. Benkstein
J. Michael Hall
Wilbur S. Hurst

Related Programs and Projects:


Pamela M. Chu
301-975-2655 Telephone