1st Edition

Field Confirmation Testing for Suspicious Substances

By Rick Houghton Copyright 2009
    453 Pages 70 Color & 71 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    470 Pages 70 Color & 71 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Frequently a substance found at a port of entry, waste site, laboratory triage facility, or even in a hazardous materials emergency will be labeled and purportedly identified. But law enforcement and other first responders cannot take this claim at face value, as the accuracy is not confirmed and must be verified. A comprehensive handbook for on-the-spot investigations, Field Confirmation Testing for Suspicious Substances provides those who confront suspicious substances with the tools to confirm or deny a labeled identity.

    A Complete Range of Testing Protocols

    Divided into three sections, the book begins by exploring physical confirmation tests which use methods that involve measurement of temperature, vapor density, radioactivity, and other factors. The author then examines chemical confirmation tests suitable for field use, providing over 400 different analyses, most of which provide a colorimetric result. The book also includes a section on instrumentation. It offers an overview of the technologies used to analyze materials and presents the strengths and weaknesses of the technology so that the corresponding weak or strong result can be used in the overall analysis. The appendix provides two detailed sections on drug and explosives tests.

    The tests in this book can immediately generate valuable information in the field which can be used to save lives, conserve property, provide environmental protection, and assist law enforcement in apprehending those responsible for disseminating hazardous substances.

    Physical Confirmation Tests


    Air Reactivity

    Appearance and Odor

    Boiling Point


    Flash Point

    Heating by Torch

    Melting Point

    Physical State



    Vapor Pressure, Volatility, and Evaporation Rate


    Water Reactivity


    Chemical Confirmation Tests


    How to Select Tests

    Index of Target Substances

    Index of Tests (Over 400 tests listed alphabetically)



    Chemical Detection

    Radioisotope Detection

    Biological Detection

    Nucleic Acid Amplification



    Drug Confirmation Testing

    Explosive Material Confirmation Testing



    Rick Houghton is a retired Michigan firefighter, paramedic, and hazardous materials technician from the Lansing Fire Department. He has been an instructor at Michigan State University since 1992. He is currently a member of the Livingston County Hazardous Material Response Team and provides training, consultation, and response.

    This book makes for an interesting reference guide, especially for Hazmat personnel…

    —Cpl. David Rolston, Integrated Forensic Identification Services, Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal, Vol. 43, No.1, March 2010