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Professional Analytical and
Consulting Services, Inc.

Chemical Warfare Agent Detection In the Field

PACS Course Number 820

9 AM to 5 PM

The threat of terroristic events utilizing weapons of mass destruction such as classic chemical agents (CWAs) or weaponizable toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) continues and, perhaps, continues to grow. Clearly, this threat has moved from the classic battlefield to everyday life. In a terror attack utilizing CWAs, rapid detection of the chemical agents involved in any hazardous material (Hazmat) incident is vital to the protection of first responders and emergency medical personnel at local medical facilities as well as to the effective treatment of casualties. There is extant no single overarching detection methodology, technique, or device that addresses the myriad of potential chemical agent threats.

This course is intended to acquaint the professional with 1) the nature and extent of chemical agents that can and/or have been employed against personnel; and 2) the state of the art with regard to detection of these chemical agents.

The course will broadly cover two areas. The first is the identity and nature of the chemical agents themselves. The substances covered will be nerve agents, blister agents, choking agents, blood agents, and toxic industrial chemicals that may be employed against personnel. Note that these agents are classically employed in the vapor phase; therefore the focus of this course will be on detection of the agents in the vapor phase. Also, the focus of this course will be on detection and estimated quantification in the field, and not on analytical laboratory determination.

The second area of concentration will be the tools and techniques currently available to detect this broad array of hazards. The techniques discussed will include (at least) colorimetric or color change detectors, electrochemical sensors/detectors, filter-based non dispersive infrared spectrometry, surface acoustic wave (SAW) detectors, photo- and flame ionization detectors, ion mobility spectrometry, and emerging technologies.

The instructor, Dr. Towner Scheffler is highly rated by prior course attendees. He is currently a Principal Scientist in the Detection Engineering Group of MSA North America. Dr. Scheffler’s current research interests are focused on the development of new and novel means of gas sensing, particularly with regard to the detection and measurement of Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs) and Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs).

PACS courses related to activated carbon are titled:

Course Registration is available. You may also register through an associated conference registration. Send it with a payment of $1250 to secure your course attendance. Hotel information and a map will be sent to confirm your registration. Please list your special interest(s) on the registration form. Enrollment is limited to assure your maximum course benefits. On-site PACS courses are available (most PACS courses can be provided at your time and place). Telephone PACS at 1.724.457.6576 if you need further information. PACS also provides laboratory testing and consulting services.

Chemical Warfare Agent Detection In the Field

Course Instructor: Dr. Towner Scheffler under the auspices of PACS

About the instructor
Dr. Towner Scheffler received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry in 1979 from Covenant College, his Doctoral Degree, also in Chemistry, from the University of Mississippi in 1984, and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Geneva College in 2002. His Doctoral dissertation topic was the electrochemistry and spectroscopy of transition metals in ambient temperature molten salts. He completed a postdoctoral study in the Frank J. Seiler Research Laboratories at the United States Air Force Academy. Dr. Scheffler spent six years on the Chemistry faculty of the University of South Florida. He then joined Mine Safety Appliances Co. in 1991. He is an authority on electrochemical (amperometric) gas sensors for toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, and also for gases of medical and safety interest, such as oxygen. Other research interests include heated catalytic bead sensors for the detection of potentially explosive atmospheres. He is also active in the development of spectroscopic methods for the detection of gases and in various types of chemi-absorptive and ionization sensors, also intended for the detection of gases. Dr. Scheffler holds 12 patents in the general area of gas sensing.

Course Agenda
This is a relatively specialized course with regard to its major emphasis. However, it will cover a very broad range of analytical techniques that are employed as detection technologies. Therefore, little specialized prerequisite knowledge is required. The course will be presented in such a way that beginner, intermediate, and advanced students will benefits both from the broad scope of the course, as well as from the depth of coverage of particular topics.

This course is primarily intended to increase the student’s overall understanding of this very broad and very important knowledge area. As such, Managers, Chemists, and Technicians will benefit from attendance. The primary goal of the course is to be a resource for personnel who are charged with making critical decisions with regard to choice, specification, purchase, or purchase of systems intended to detect the release of CWAs or TICs. Therefore, the needs of Safety Officers, First Responders, or Industrial hygienists, remediation experts, and R&D researchers and those who manage or advise such personnel will be of primary interest.

Each technique will be described in basic terms, and its applicability and limitations will be discussed, with particular attention paid to sensitivity, selectivity, minimum detectable level, interferences, and operational parameters (size, weight, power, etc.).

List of Topics
A. Welcome
B. Who are we? Why are we here?
C. Chemical warfare background
D. Hazards
1. Chemical Warfare Agents
    • a. Nerve agents
    • b. Blister agents
    • c. Blood agents
    • d. Choking agents
    • d. Vomiting agents
    • d. Incapacitating agents
    • d. Tear agents
    • d. Unclassified
2. Toxic Industiral Chemicals
E. Characteristics of “good” gas sensors
1. Phenomenological Characteristics
2. Performance Characteristics
3. Operational Characteristics
F. Methodologies
1. Colorimetric methods
2. Electrochemical methods
3. Ionization methods
4. Flame Photometry
5. Infrared methods
6. Saw devices
7. Ion Mobility Spectrometry
8. Potential emerging technologies


View the PACS Short Course Calendar–>

Course participants are encouraged to e-mail questions:

George Nowicki
Lab Manager

Rich Capp
Office Administrator

Send samples and postal inquiries to:
PACS, Inc.
409 Meade Drive
Coraopolis, PA 15108

Other PACS contact information:
Phone: 1-724-457-6576 or 1-800-367-2587
PACS website:

Please list your special interest during registration. We will try to accommodate your interest.

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