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hydroxycobalamin in a Conway dish. The technique may be accelerated by the use of a heating sheet at 45°C. The method proved to be specific, sensitive, and fast, thus permitting measurements in emergency situations. A possible alternative to the GC-MS approach described above is an automated fluorometric measurement described in TB MED 296 (Groff et al., 1985). The CN- assay methods provide direct measurement of plasma-free CN- and the stabilization of total CN- in blood. Samples for both plasma-free CN- and total-blood CN- are assayed directly without prior isolation of CN- by a completely automated method requiring only 16 minutes from sampling to readout.

R&D Needs

R&D needs in chemical detection vary from simply evaluating what already exists to developing better procedures and methods for better detecting exposure levels. The ultimate goal of chemical detection is to rapidly and inexpensively detect and perhaps identify toxic substances that threaten to endanger both responders and victims. To this end, the committee has identified the following list of research needs:


Conduct a thorough evaluation of all industrial chemical detection equipment in the inventory of Hazmat and EMS units for its sensitivity and specificity for detecting CWA.


Continue research efforts to miniaturize and reduce the acquisition costs of GC/MS technology that would monitor the environment within fixed medical facilities and patient transport vehicles.


Develop standard operating procedures for communication of CWA detection information from first responders to Hazmat teams, emergency medical services, and fixed medical facilities.


Direct research efforts towards the development of simplified, rapid, and inexpensive methods of determining exposure to and level of intoxication from chemical agents in clinical samples. Give highest priority to research focusing on immunoassays for such detection, but research should also be conducted to determine the suitability of currently available portable instrumentation for rapid determination of cholinesterase inhibition by EMS units and in fixed medical facilities.

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