The Fate of the Chemical Warfare Agent During DNA Extraction*


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    Presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, WA, February 2006.


Abstract:  Forensic laboratories do not have the infrastructure to process or store contaminated DNA samples that have been recovered from a crime scene contaminated with chemical or biological warfare agents. Previous research has shown that DNA profiles can be recovered from blood exposed to several chemical warfare agents after the agent has been removed. The fate of four toxic agents, sulfur mustard, sodium 2-fluoroacetate, sarin, and diazinon, in a lysis buffer used in Promega DNA IQ™ extraction protocol was studied to determine if extraction would render the samples safe. Two independent analytical methods were used per agent, selected from GC-MS, 1H NMR, 19F NMR, 31P NMR, or LC-ES MS. The methods were validated before use. Determinations were carried out in a semi-quantitative way, by direct comparison to standards. Agent levels in the elution buffer were found to be below the detectable limits for mustard, sarin, sodium 2-fluoroacetate or low (<0.02 mg/mL) for diazinon. Therefore, once extracted these DNA samples could be safely processed in a forensic laboratory.