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What's that Smell?

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 30 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2003 Pages: 74,76,77
Rebecca Kanable
Date Published
August 2003
3 pages
This article discusses the types of electronic noses used to detect hazardous chemical agents.
An electronic nose is a technology that is designed to detect all chemicals within an aroma or fragrance and miss nothing. Unlike human noses, electronic noses don’t need to be covered with personal protective equipment and they can come near hazardous levels of chemical agents without being harmed. The Cyranose 320, launched in 2000, was the first handheld technology on the market. Its non-specific sensors can detect a myriad of compounds. The walkie-talkie-looking device is small enough to holster and can be set to detect 30 compounds. The device is produced by Cyrano Sciences, which has been researching chemical sensor solutions for homeland defense. The Cyranose 320 will likely be used to confirm that a chemical agent attack has not happened. Electron Sensor Technology (EST) produces a benchtop and a handheld zNose with a 20-pound chassis and a 7-pound handheld sensor. The zNose is a gas chromatograph and is the only electronic nose that can be calibrated according to Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration methods. The 4200 zNose improved chemical agent monitor (ICAM) can help first responders as well as military personnel deal with chemical vapor threats. The technology of electronic noses in the future will be smaller in size, lower in cost, and merge with wireless technology. Devices as small as 1-inch high and 1-inch wide could be used to create a network of sensors that could be deployed around a stadium. If these sensing noses detected something that they were trained to detect, they would send a wireless signal indicating the presence of an agent. Electronic noses also could identify when a respirator filter needs to be changed.