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amlptj
07-30-2010, 09:04 PM
Hi, does anyone know how long it would take for a lab to test an unknown white powder delivered in the mail to a government office? Hours? days? Thanks!

PeterL
07-30-2010, 09:41 PM
It could be done in less than 24 hours. If they had some idea what it was, then it might be faster.

DeleyanLee
07-30-2010, 09:52 PM
It also depends on what kind of urgency comes with the sample. Something that's not given a priority can take months.

amlptj
07-30-2010, 09:55 PM
say it have very urgent priority. Government agents lives could be at stake.

Charles Farley
07-30-2010, 10:03 PM
.

Street cops have drug testing sample bags in their units . . . could be done instantly . . if they assume its dope.

.

Drachen Jager
07-30-2010, 10:24 PM
Mass spec takes a few hours, add that to the time it takes to get it to a mass spec unit. If you have the priority to cut in line that's it.

amlptj
07-30-2010, 10:42 PM
Its not dope... Its just one of those sinarios where an agent opens a letter and white power falls out. I know the protacall of what happens if that happens. So a few hours??? Ok that's what i figured thanks!

Drachen Jager
07-31-2010, 03:01 AM
Its not dope... Its just one of those sinarios where an agent opens a letter and white power falls out. I know the protacall of what happens if that happens. So a few hours??? Ok that's what i figured thanks!

Freudian slip? Is that the Tea Party's version of Black Power?

shaldna
07-31-2010, 04:42 PM
Hi, does anyone know how long it would take for a lab to test an unknown white powder delivered in the mail to a government office? Hours? days? Thanks!


Honestly, it depends.

When we would get stuff into the lab we would run out on standard battery of tests, we'd put it through a NIR machine (near-infra red) to help identify the organic components. The NIR has a preset model for all the known compounds, and when we got a new one we'd add it. This would give us figures we could compare with known compounds and work out if it was an organic or chemical sample.

Then, assuming we still couldn't tell, we would run wet chemistry on it - water, proteins, ash, salt, fibre, fats, calcium and oils. and heavy metals - magnesium, cadnium, lead, mercury etc, and a full vitamin and mineral testing.

We would then have a full set of figures we could compare against known substances to get an answer, or at least a rough idea.

This process would take at least 24 hours as a protein run is 6 hours and oils about 12, heavy metal testing can take 12-14 hours, longer if you have to send it to another lab.

Also, it depends on how urgent it is, and any backlog, and how urgent it is compared with the other samples in.

Stijn Hommes
08-01-2010, 12:47 PM
This would give us figures we could compare with known compounds and work out if it was an organic or chemical sample. Since when are organic compounds not chemical? I think you're talking about the distinction between organic (alkane, alkene, alkyne, bio-organics, etc) and everything else.

If a white powder falls from a letter, the first tests they'll run are probably for anthrax, dope, sugar, and a couple of other common white powders. If it is actually any of these, you could be done in hours, if not, it will probably take longer depending on the order they do the tests in.

shaldna
08-02-2010, 03:28 AM
Since when are organic compounds not chemical? I think you're talking about the distinction between organic (alkane, alkene, alkyne, bio-organics, etc) and everything else.

If a white powder falls from a letter, the first tests they'll run are probably for anthrax, dope, sugar, and a couple of other common white powders. If it is actually any of these, you could be done in hours, if not, it will probably take longer depending on the order they do the tests in.


bear in mind that most of my experience is food and medication related, and in those instances a substnace is either 'organic' or 'chemical',

chemical in those terms means something that would not naturally occur in the compound / type of compound.

those where the definations in our lab. But ours was primarily agricultre and feedstuffs and related drugs, so I can't speak for all labs.

But your right about teh initial tests.

amlptj
08-04-2010, 06:36 PM
Thanks everyone! The senario is to clear out a government building so my characters can sneek inside as the bio hazard team and steal something. I did some research on the protacall for an evacuation just wondering a realistic time frame for how long my MC's would have to find what were looking for. So can anyone recomend a white powder.... actually anything that could spill out of an envolope and cause a panic, that would actually be harmless but take at least 3 hours to analyse? (And this would be sent to a lab as a top priority.)

boron
08-06-2010, 05:44 PM
flour
lactose
glucose
sugar
salt
starch
baking soda
baking powder
powdered milk
powder for a pudding
washing powder
crushed tablets
crushed chalk
baby powder
some mix used in masonry
talc powder used in gymnastics

I don't think anything of this needs more than few minutes to be analysed, but it depends what you try first...

RJK
08-06-2010, 07:30 PM
I got this from the CDC site:


When an area is tested for the presence of Bacillus anthracis, how long does it take to get the results?
Before testing can begin, samples must be collected in a form suitable for testing. The length of time it takes to get test results depends on both the kind of test to be performed and the laboratory’s workload. Some tests may take only a short time to perform, but confirmation takes longer. It may take many days to get the test results.
Testing is a two-step process. The first test, a screening test, may be positive within 2 hours if the sample is large and contains a lot of Bacillus anthracis, the organism that causes the disease anthrax. However, a positive reading on this first test must be confirmed with a second, more accurate test. This confirmation test, conducted by a more sophisticated laboratory, takes much longer. The length of time needed depends in part on how fast the bacteria grow, but results are usually available 1 to 3 days after the sample is received in the laboratory.

I assume the powder is anthrax. I may be wrong.

amlptj
08-06-2010, 07:53 PM
ok well i started a new thread with the back story of what i need to happen in my story... It doesnt have to be anthrax just something that woudl scare the crap out of government officials and make them evacurate the building. The key part I need is evacuation for at least an hour no more then 3...