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Chemistry and Toxicology

The Division of Chemistry and Toxicology works with various state and private agencies to monitor lead levels in homes, administers toxicology proficiency testing and performs alcohol and drug testing on persons involved in fatal traffic accidents.  The division also tests clinical specimens and environmental samples to determine possible exposure to chemical agents potentially used in a terrorist event.

Blood Lead Testing

Postmortem Testing

In cooperation with the Department of Transportation, the Bureau performs analyses on post-mortem blood from persons who are fatally injured in motor vehicle accidents to determine the involvement of alcohol and controlled substances.

Chemical Terrorism Testing

The Bureau of Laboratories serves as Pennsylvania's reference laboratory for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Laboratory Response Network (LRN). This includes our chemical terrorism response section. Efforts are focused on methods that can detect those chemicals and chemical metabolites in human specimens such as blood or urine that would be most likely to be found in a chemical exposure or following an exposure to a weapon of mass destruction. Testing in incidents of this type is designed to identify those persons who have been exposed. In the event of a chemical emergency, we provide guidance with respect to the proper collection, packing and shipping of clinical specimens from potentially exposed individuals. Environmental samples are also analyzed to determine their chemical composition.

Visit the following website for more information on the collection, packing and shipping of clinical specimens in a chemical emergency.

Toxicology Approval and Proficiency Testing Programs

Laboratories performing tests for blood lead, erythrocyte protoporphyrin, alcohol and drugs of abuse must obtain the approval of the Division of Chemistry and Toxicology, enroll in the appropriate proficiency testing program and continue to demonstrate satisfactory performance. The division also approves testing devices used by law enforcement officials to determine the alcohol content of blood by analysis of a person's breath. The Toxicology Approval and Proficiency Testing Program page provides details on the approval process and proficiency testing. Listings of labs approved to perform testing are also provided.