The Forensic Chemistry Section seeks to serve the public by conducting quality unbiased analysis and reporting results in a timely manner.
Drug Chemistry Unit
The Chemistry Unit provides service in two sub-disciplines: drug analysis and blood alcohol analysis. Chemists produce reports based on analytical findings and provide expert testimony. The section consists of the Forensic Chemistry Supervisor and eleven Forensic Scientists, eight assigned to the drug chemistry unit and three assigned to the toxicology unit.
Drug Analysis: The section performs analysis of materials to determine the presence of controlled substances. The majority of samples submitted are “street” samples. “Street” samples are presumed to be controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine that have been confiscated from subjects. The section also tests beverages for drugs used in date rapes and provide assistance to Austin police officers at clandestine laboratory sites in the documentation and collection of evidence.
Techniques used in the analysis of drugs include color tests and instrumentation including ultraviolet-visible (UV/VIS) spectrophotometer, gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC/MS), gas chromatograph-flame ionization detector (GC/FID, and Fourier-Transform infrared spectrophotometer. The lab also acquired a liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC/MS) for drug analysis.
Toxicology Unit: Blood alcohol analysis is conducted on blood samples from subjects arrested for DWI and DUI. The laboratory does not perform the blood draws. They are responsible for performing the analysis of the samples. The technique used for these samples is GC headspace analysis. If drugs are also suspected in the blood sample, the blood sample is forwarded to an outside lab for additional testing.