Volume 48, Issue 2 (March 2003)
Trends in Explosive Contamination
This study sought to assign a rough order of magnitude for the amount of explosive residue likely to be available in real-world searches for clandestine explosives. A variety of explosives (TNT, TATP, HMX, AN, RDX, PETN) in various forms (powder, flake, detonating cord, plastic) were carefully weighed or cut into containers, and the amount of residue inadvertently remaining on the work area, hands, or containers was quantified. This was used to evaluate the spillage potential of each explosive. The adhesion of each explosive to a glass surface was quantified from amount of explosive adhering to the inside of a glass vial into which the explosive had been placed and then removed by vigorous tapping. In powdered form, most of the explosives—TNT, PETN, RDX, HMX, and TATP—exhibited similar spillage and adhesion to glass. However, PETN as sheet explosive and plasticized RDX (C-4), showed very little potential to contaminate surfaces, either by spillage or adhesion to glass.