Digital Version of November/December 2014 Print Edition
DHS to test detectors that would sniff for chemical agents in subways
The DHS office of health affairs wants to find a laboratory that can test the effectiveness of stationary chemical vapor detectors that might someday be installed in U.S. subway systems to sniff for dangerous chemical weapon agents, such as Sarin, Soman, Sulfur Mustard, Nerve Agent and others.
The detectors, which DHS describes as “commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) stationary, autonomous chemical vapor detectors,” could be installed in subway environments to detect chemical warfare agents or less-dangerous “toxic industrial chemicals” -- such as Ammonia, Chlorine, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen Chloride, Sulfur Dioxide and several others -- with or without the presence of what are known as “interferents,” such as window cleaner, bleach, alcohols, rail dust, solvents and others.
“These detectors should continuously monitor on a 24 hours, 365 days per year basis and provide information about vapor phase chemical constituents detected in the selected venue,” explains a statement of work made available online by DHS on July 30. “These detectors should be sufficiently sensitive to provide detect-to-warn capability to enable effective response measures, such as active management of airflow, evacuation notice/alarm, and notification to responders.”
The DHS office of health affairs has funded Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to use test facilities at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to use the Sensing Nodes Inform and Facilitate Fast Emergency Response, or SNIFFER, chemical detection system to develop testing methodologies.
In its public announcement, DHS emphasized that its “sources sought” notice was not a request for proposals, but simply an effort to gather information from prospective vendors.
When the actual testing begins, the chosen laboratory will create the appropriate mixtures of various chemical agents, which will required to test and evaluate the COTS chemical detectors under varying temperature and humidity conditions, explains to notice. “The laboratory shall compile all of the data collected from the testing and analyze the results,” it adds.
The notice identifies a total of seven different chemical weapon agents, 12 different toxic industrial chemicals and 12 different interferents that will be tested in various combinations.
Questions from prospective contractors are welcome until August 8 and formal replies are due by August 17.
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