Taggants for Preblast and Postblast Identification of Explosives


Identification taggants found in a preblast recovery of an illegal explosive device or after a bombing can provide various levels of information to aid in solving and prosecuting criminal bombing cases, as well as to deter illegal use of explosives. Depending on the particular information encoded, the frequency with which the codes are changed, and the extent of record keeping, tagging could lead to determination of an explosive's type, manufacturer, and chain of ownership. The information encoded in an identification taggant can range from the general to the very specific, including date and shift of manufacture. As the specificity of the taggant coding increases, so also does the taggant's potential forensic usefulness, along with the burden on the manufacturer and the cost to society in general. Even at the lowest level of specificity, a taggant would have some utility, such as identifying the type of explosive used in a criminal act or perhaps linking a suspect to a crime through the presence of residual taggant in the suspect's clothing, vehicle, place of business, or home. However, the benefits of instituting a taggant program must be weighed against the costs.

Types of Explosives That Could Be Tagged

The materials considered by the committee as possible candidates for identification tagging were as follows:

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