Forensic Chemistry Unit


The Forensic Chemistry Unit is comprised of two sections: Controlled Substances and Fire Debris. Analytical Chemists in the Forensic Chemistry Unit analyze materials for the presence of controlled substances, marijuana, and synthetic cannabinoids from evidence submitted from law enforcement through the Forensic Evidence Specialist. Evidence submitted to the Fire Debris section is usually submitted through one of the Fire Marshals after an investigation of a fire related incident.

Controlled Substances

Controlled substances may be present in substrates that include powders, solid materials, liquids, plant material, mushrooms, blotter paper, and food items. In addition, the section examines pharmaceutical preparations in the form of tablets, capsules, injectables and transdermal patches. Controlled Substances examiners also analyze evidence that is related to the suspected clandestine manufacture of controlled substances. These controlled substances are routinely screened using color tests with structural confirmation accomplished through gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).

Fire Debris

Forensic Chemists in the Fire Debris section analyze fire debris, liquids and other exhibits recovered from crime scenes to determine if ignitable liquids are present. A variety of debris is submitted for testing including structural materials from buildings, vehicle parts, items of clothing and soil samples. Evidence from suspicious fires resulting in fatalities, physical injuries, and property destruction are analyzed in this Unit. Debris is typically submitted by a State or local Fire Marshal in sealed one gallon metal cans and liquids are submitted in suitable containers for volatiles.