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Assessment of Portable HAZMAT Sensors for First Responders

NCJ Number
Chad Huffman, Ph.D.; Lars Ericson, Ph.D.
Date Published
March 2014
41 pages
This report presents findings from the National Institute of Justice's Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies Center of Excellence (CoE) assessment that determined whether there is a commercial sensor system which meets the stated technology needs requirements or whether further research and development is needed to produce such a system.
Commercially available equipment used for gas detection ranges from small units that can detect only a single gas to devices that can sample, detect, and identify a wide range of hazardous gases. The technologies used for gas detection determine the abilities of the detector as well as the size and weight of the equipment. Small, wearable gas detectors tend to be able to detect only a small number of gases or gas types; and the detectors that are able to detect and identify a wide range of gases tend to be too large and heavy to be used unobtrusively, and they require technical training. Consequently, the CoE concludes that there is no commercial off-the-shelf device that meets the first responder needs in full. Specifically, there is no commercially available equipment that is unobtrusive and able to detect a wide range of gases. Thus, further research and development is needed to produce such a system. This report identifies many commercially available gas detectors, discusses the sensing technologies used by them, and highlights devices of note that meet a significant subset of the technology requirements. 6 figures, 5 tables, and 39 references