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ERIC Number: EJ827386
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 29
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Using Laboratory Chemicals to Imitate Illicit Drugs in a Forensic Chemistry Activity
Hasan, Shawn; Bromfield-Lee, Deborah; Oliver-Hoyo, Maria T.; Cintron-Maldonado, Jose A.
Journal of Chemical Education, v85 n6 p813-816 Jun 2008
This forensic chemistry activity utilizes presumptive forensic testing procedures and laboratory chemicals that produce screening results similar to controlled substances. For obvious reasons, obtaining heavily regulated controlled substances to create an undergraduate student activity is not practical for most educational institutions. We were able to identify over-the-counter and laboratory chemicals that mimic actual street drugs in terms of physical properties and color response. Using these selected chemicals, the screening aspect of drug testing provides students with the opportunity to understand what obstacles a forensic chemist faces when analyzing a sample of unknown identity. Chemical spot tests (CSTs) and thin-layer chromatography (TLC) were chosen owing to their simplicity, versatility, common use by forensic chemists, availability, and cost of the reagents and equipment needed. Students are expected to explain how simple color reactions can screen for illicit drugs, to describe how TLC can be used to separate and tentatively identify drugs, to predict how polarity changes affect TLC results, and to explain why CSTs and TLC serve for screening purposes only. (Contains 1 table, 1 figure and 1 note.)
Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. Subscription Department, P.O. Box 1267, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-1267. Tel: 800-691-9846; Tel: 856-931-5825; Fax: 856-931-4115; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A