Drug Chemistry/Fire Debris/Explosives

Chemistry Overview

The St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory serves 91 municipalities (including over 60 police departments) and Federal Agencies including DEA, FBI and ATF. Forensic chemists routinely testify as expert witnesses in Federal, State, Municipal, and Family Courts of law. If requested, forensic chemists are available to provide assistance and training to local agencies. For training or assistance, please contact the Chemistry Section Supervisor or Crime Laboratory Commander.

Forensic chemists use state-of-the-art scientific methodology and instrumentation to positively confirm the presence of controlled substances. The techniques and instrumentation routinely used include presumptive color tests, microscopic examination, Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS).
FTIR
(Fourier-Transform
Infrared Spectrometer)
GCMS
(Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer)
Stereoscope
LCMS
(Liquid Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer)

Controlled Substance Analysis

The St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory Drug Chemistry section tests a variety of evidentiary items for the presence of controlled substances. Items tested include powders, liquids, plant material, tablets, capsules, pharmaceuticals, and various forms of paraphernalia.

Forensic chemists routinely confirm substances such as marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine HCL/cocaine base, pharmaceuticals, anabolic steroids, synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts, while also confirming lesser known designer drugs and final product/ precursor components from suspected clandestine laboratories. Forensic chemists rely on State of Missouri and Federal statutes to determine whether or not an identified substance is controlled.


Fire Debris Analysis

The Chemistry Section of the St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory also conducts analysis of fire debris. Fire debris analysis includes testing of evidentiary items associated with fire scenes for the presence of ignitable liquids. Items tested vary from liquids to charred debris and include items such as carpet/flooring, clothing, debris from automobile fires, and liquids removed from ignitable liquid containers and gas cans. Using current techniques and instrumentation, forensic chemists can determine if an ignitable liquid is present in submitted fire debris evidence. Since petroleum-based products are everywhere in our society, the forensic chemist needs to understand matrix interferences and contributions. Ignitable liquids can also be inherent to the matrix which complicates the interpretation of the data. Using GC/MS instrumentation, forensic chemists are able to identify ignitable liquids into 8 different classifications (i.e. petroleum distillate, gasoline, naphthenic paraffinic, etc.) and 3 sub-classes (i.e. light, medium, heavy). Individual ignitable liquid brands cannot be determined.

Explosives Analysis

The Chemistry Section also provides region wide forensic support to the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit. Using instrumentation such as GC/MS, FTIR, LC/MS, IC/MS, XRD, and Stereomicroscopy forensic chemists are able to conduct analysis on explosives evidence to identify the presence of explosives or explosive precursors. These may include Black Powder, Black Powder Substitutes, Smokeless Powders, Improvised explosive mixtures, and many other classes of explosives. These analyses can help the Bomb and Arson Detectives determine the type of explosives used, connect a person to an explosives crime, or determine the presence of a clandestine explosives laboratory or manufacturing process. Chemists can also provide technical assistance to Bomb Technicians as they identify, process, and dispose of explosive threats.


For more information, please contact:

St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory 
Lieutenant Dana Fulton, Commander
Telephone: (314) 615-5365
E-mail: [dfulton@stlouisco.com]
Ms. Lisa Campbell, Deputy Director 
Telephone: (314) 615-5365 E-mail: [lcampbell@stlouisco.com]
7900 Forsyth Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63105
Fax: 314-615-8956

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Friday, 8:00AM to 4:30PM*
The Laboratory is closed on all St. Louis County Government holidays
*Please call for an appointment if submitting evidence

St. Louis County Police Department

7900 Forsyth Blvd

Clayton, MO 63105

Emergency Calls: Call 911

Non-Emergency Reporting / General Information: (636) 529-8210

TDD: (636) 529-8220