Forensic Investigation of Incidents Involving a Chemical Agent

Research Paper Title

Forensic investigation of incidents involving chemical threat agent: Presentation of the operating procedure developed in Belgium for a field-exercise.


The GIFT CBRN project (Generic Integrated Forensic Toolbox for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents), funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission, has been set up to find solutions for investigating incidents involving CBRN agents.

Regarding the forensic point of view, specific tools and procedures to assist forensic investigators to perform a crime scene investigation (CSI) and methodologies to enable the subsequent analysis of the evidences (contaminated with CBRN agents) seized at the crime scene have been developed.


To validate the procedures and methods developed within this project and to test them, three field-exercises engaged with one type of agent at the time (i.e. a RN-agent, a B-agent or a C-agent) has been held.

The Belgian Defence Laboratories (DLD) in collaboration with Royal Military Academy (RMA) and the National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC) organised the chemical field exercise in Belgium.

CSI teams of the Belgian Federal Police (experienced in crime scene investigation, fingerprints and digital forensics but at the time of the exercise not trained to perform their activities in CBRN conditions), SIBCRA teams (experienced in the sampling and identification of CBRN agents in hazardous environments) and the Civil Protection (experienced in entering zones with potential chemical hazards in full individual protective equipment) were involved.

Since those teams never worked together in CBRN conditions, the exercise was used to establish the first operating procedure for CSI and laboratory analysis for CBRN and forensic materials in Belgium.

The main steps of the procedure applied during this filed-exercise are described is this manuscript.


  • The first step was the reconnaissance performed to:
    • Identify/quantify the threat agent involved;
    • Document the scene; and
    • Collect priority forensic evidences.
  • The second step focused on the collection of other forensic evidences, the sampling of DNA traces and the revelation of fingerprints at the scene.
  • The collection of CBRN agents was performed during step 3.
  • Step 4 concentrated on the decontamination and transport of evidences and traces sampled in the contaminated zone.
  • The revelation of fingerprints in a glovebox (step 5) was finally demonstrated.


In conclusion, this field-exercise was an opportunity for the different Belgium services to work together, to learn from each other, and to work towards the establishment of a national operating procedure to manage investigations in CBRN conditions.


Kummer, N., Augustyns, B., Van Rompaey, D. & De Meulenaere, K. (2019) Forensic investigation of incidents involving chemical threat agent: Presentation of the operating procedure developed in Belgium for a field-exercise. Forensic Science International. 299, pp.180-186. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2019.03.037. Epub 2019 Mar 27.


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