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Measurement Methods and Standards for Public Safety and Security


Measurements and standards research within the Chemical Sciences Division related to public safety and security include a diverse group of activities that are driven primarily by the needs of other Federal agencies. These activities include: (1) development of methods and SRMs to support forensic analysis, trace explosive detection, work place safety and consumer protection related to potential chemical exposure; (2) chemical analyses to support product evaluation and testing; and (3) development of measurement facilities and capabilities to support homeland security.


The Chemical Sciences Division has a long history of working with other Federal agencies to provide research, measurements, and standards to support public safety and homeland security. Recent activities have been supported by U.S. Departments of Justice (DoJ) Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Many of these activities are coordinated through the NIST Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES). These other agency-supported activities are generally related to developing SRMs to support their chemical measurement needs or providing unique measurements to support their specific mission.

Additional Technical Details:

For over 20 years the Division has provided SRMs to support forensic analyses related to drugs of abuse including alcohol abuse. These SRMs provide critical calibration of instrumentation where quantitative analysis directly affects criminal prosecutions. The first forensic SRMs were ethanol-water mixtures issued in 1985 to support ethanol in blood and breath measurements. These ethanol-water mixtures were recently expanded to nine concentration levels, set to legally relevant points, for both blood-alcohol testing (SRM 1828b) and breath-alcohol testing (SRM 1847). 

Urine-based SRMs for drugs of abuse were first developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s with materials intended for 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (THC-9-COOH) (the primary marijuana metabolite) (SRM 1507), cotinine (a nicotine metabolite) (RM 8444), cocaine and cocaine metabolite (SRM 1508), morphine and codeine (SRM 2381), and morphine glucuronide (SRM 2382). All the SRMs were certified using multiple analytical methods, primarily isotope dilution GC/MS methods. In 1992 the first hair matrix RMs for drugs of abuse were prepared by soaking hair in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) solutions with four target drugs. The two hair RMs were replaced in 2002 by SRM 2379 and 2380 Drugs of Abuse in Hair, which were again prepared by soaking in DMSO with nine drugs (different drugs in each material), but were assigned certified values based on measurements by using ID GC/MS and ID LC/MS. A third matrix for drugs of abuse, serum, will be issued in early 2009 with values for seven drugs, including two (methadone and nordiazepam) that have not been measured in previous matrices.

In recent years the Division has been providing support to DHS in the general area of standards development for chemical measurements primarily in the area of trace explosives detection. The first explosives material issued in 2004, RM 8107 Additives in Smokeless Powder, was developed to help assure the quality of ‘low explosives’ type measurements. The first SRM for high explosives, SRM 2905 Trace Particulate Explosives, was made available in 2009. This explosives reference material and SRMs 2906 and 2907 that followed it are intended for use in calibrating and evaluating the sensitivity and reliability of trace explosive detection equipment.

A beryllium oxide SRM have also been developed in collaboration with DoE and NIOSH to support measurements for assessment of potential aerospace and defense industry worker exposure to beryllium. The Chemical Sciences Division is part of a larger DoD-supported program within MML to provide analytical methods development, quality assurance of measurements, and analysis of high-priority samples to support the mission of this DoD agency.

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Associated Products:

SRMs 1507, 1508, 2382 Individual Drugs of Abuse in Urine - THC-9-COOOH, benzoylecgonine, morphine glucuronide

SRM 1511 Multi-Drugs of Abuse in Urine - Benzoylecgonine, morphine, codeine, THC-9-COOH, phencyclidine

SRM 2381 Morphine and Codeine in Urine - Morphine, codeine

RM 8444 Cotinine in Urine - Cotinine

SRMs 2379, 2380 Multi-Drugs of Abuse in Hair - Amphetamine, benzoylecgonine, cocaethylene, cocaine, codeine, methamphetamine, G-monoacetymorphine, morphine, phencyclidine, THC

SRMs 1828, 1847, 2891-2900 Ethanol-Water Solutions - Ethanol

SRM 2285 Arson Test Mixture in Methylene Chloride - Aliphatic hydrocarbons, p-xylene, 2-ethyltoluene, 3-ethyltoluene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene

RM 8107 Additives in Smokeless Powder - Nitroglycerin, diphenylamine, N-nitroso-diphenylamine, ethyl centralite

SRM 2905 Trace Particulate Explosive Simulants - TNT, RDX, HMX

SRM 2906 Trace Explosives Calibration Solutions – values assigned for RDX, PETN, TNT

SRM 2907 Trace Terrorist Explosives Simulants - values assigned for TATP, PETN

SRMs 1878, 1879 Respirable Alpha Quartz and Cristobalite - Alpha quartz, cristobalite

SRM 1877 Beryllium Oxide Powder - Beryllium

SRM 2570-2582 Lead Paint Film and Lead in Powdered Paint - Lead


Stephen A. Wise
Phone 301-975-3112

Lane C. Sander
Phone 301-975-3117

Gregory C. Turk
Phone 301-975-4118