As reflected in the recommendations presented above, the committee concluded that ambient ionization mass spectrometry is a rapidly maturing and highly useful technology with specific available implementations capable of highly sensitive, real-time measurements of relative concentrations of chemical agents adsorbed on a variety of relevant surfaces and in some porous materials. Further, with suitable reference standards, absolute measurements of agent concentrations in ambient air and liquid solutions are feasible. If adopted, these capabilities might be very useful in supplementing the Army’s traditional air and vapor headspace agent contamination measurements using current near-real-time agent monitors. A range of scenarios occurring during agent disposal operations and facility closure activities have been defined and developed by the committee to illustrate the potential utility of real-time ambient ionization mass spectrometric detection of chemical agent contamination.
Although commercially available ambient ionization mass spectrometry instrumentation in the specific configurations recommended by the committee may not currently be available off the shelf, the major components have been commercialized, and a number of analytical instrument vendors are capable of designing, assembling, and demonstrating instruments meeting potential ACWA specifications. Given the current schedules for anticipated PCAPP and BGCAPP weapons disposal (beginning in 2015 and 2020, respectively) and facility closure activities, it is very likely that these instruments could be specified, tested, and deployed quickly enough to be used at BGCAPP and PCAPP as suggested in this report.
In addition, as demonstrated by their work as reviewed in Chapters 4 and 5, Army scientists at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, sited near ACWA headquarters, have significant experience in the application of ambient ionization mass spectrometric measurements of chemical agent concentrations and distributions and could be a resource for developing and testing specific ambient ionization technology implementations for ACWA.
Based on these considerations the committee’s overarching finding and recommendation are as follows:
Finding 6-1. Suitably specified ambient ion mass spectrometry instrumentation could be utilized in a range of challenging activities at ACWA chemical weapons disposal facilities where real-time chemical agent contamination measurements may reduce the time and effort required to characterize chemical agent contamination of waste materials, process equipment, and work areas.
Recommendation 6-1. ACWA should carefully evaluate the capabilities of portable ambient ion mass spectrometry and its potential to provide faster and more accurate characterization of chemical agent contamination, as detailed in this report, and determine if these likely benefits justify the effort and investment required to specify, acquire, and deploy suitable implementations of this technology.