The Chemical Analysis laboratories provide analytical, advisory and a problem solving service to meet government regulatory and emergency needs in the fields of forensics, population health chemistry and environmental chemistry.
We protect the population of Queensland from the effects of exposure to chemicals in the home, the workplace, the natural environment and the consumer environment. Our forensic chemistry services help protect the community from criminal activity and assist the judicial system in its deliberations.
Chemical Analysis offer customised analytical, research, consultation and interpretive advice services in the following key areas:
- Forensic Chemistry
(illicit drug analysis, clandestine laboratory analysis and remediation, physical evidence examination, oil spill comparisons)
- Forensic Toxicology
(urine toxicology, alcohol and drugs in drivers, post-mortem toxicology)
- Organic Chemistry
(pesticide residue analysis, phycology including algal toxin analysis, environmental nutrients, recycled water analysis)
- Food Chemistry
(food trace metals, compliance with Foods Standard Code, food forensics)
- Investigative Chemistry
(air analysis for volatile organic compounds, drug analysis, consumer product analysis, regulatory analysis (Poisons Regulations), chemical emergency response)
- Inorganic Chemistry
(trace elements in environmental samples, trace metals in biological materials)
Please note: all services are subject to our terms and conditions (PDF, 91KB).
Forensic Chemistry provides analytical services and advice to Queensland Police and the judiciary. The laboratory conducts chemical analyses of illicit drugs, items related to clandestine manufacture of drugs and any other substances or material implicated in criminal matters.
Forensic Chemistry provides assistance and primary data to federal agencies such as Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs, Australian Crime Commission and Attorney General’s Department. Forensic Chemistry staff work collaboratively with local universities in developing future forensic scientists and fostering forensic research.
Forensic Chemistry consists of three distinctive groups: Illicit Drugs, Clandestine Laboratory Investigation and Chemical Criminalistics.
- Analysis of street seizures of suspected illicit drugs to determine their identity and in some instances purity and/or implements for the presence of illicit drugs. Certificates are issued under the Drugs Misuse Act to be used in courts of law.
- Provision of urgent analysis, usually within 24 hours, of suspected drugs to determine their identity and purity for under cover operations conducted by the police.
- Preparation and provision of pseudo drugs for training of drug sniffer dogs.
Clandestine Laboratory Investigation
- Analysis of items including recipes, reagents and reaction mixtures related to the clandestine manufacture of illicit drugs and provision of certificates and statements with scientific opinions to be used in litigation.
- Provision of 24-hour on-call assistance and advice to police at clandestine laboratory sites to manage sites in a safe manner and to seize the items of evidentiary value.
- Provision of appropriate training to police in the handling clandestine laboratory sites as first responders.
- Provision of assistance to police in the safe disposal of items related to clandestine laboratory cases where legal process has been concluded.
- Analysis of unknown substances including poisons implicated in criminal acts such as extortion, drink spiking, rape and murder.
- Comparative testing of fibres, oils, soils and other materials.
- Provision of scientific opinions for litigation and also for investigative work.
- Analysis of explosive residues and explosive devices.
- Provision of 24/7 assistance and advice to law enforcement agencies and emergency services in criminal incidents including acts of terrorism.
Legislation observed by Forensic Chemistry can be accessed from The Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel. Relevant legislation includes:
- Criminal Code Act 1899
- Drugs Misuse Act 1986
- Evidence Act 1977
- Health Act 1937
- Justices Act 1886
- Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000
- Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994
- Weapons Act 1990
The role of the laboratory is the detection of drugs and poisons in biological specimens:
- To detect the broad spectrum of prescription, over-the-counter, illicit drugs and poisons available the laboratory utilises a number of different procedures and instruments.
- Immunoassay techniques provide rapid screening capability for a limited range of drug groups.
- Mass spectrometers attached to liquid chromatographs and gas chromatographs provide the unique identity for the detected compound and the concentration of that compound.
Drugs, alcohol and poisons in deceased persons
Toxicology testing on blood, urine or other biological specimens may be requested on a deceased person to confirm or eliminate the contribution of drugs, alcohol or poisons to the death.
Drugs and alcohol involved in drivers and other criminal offences
Samples are received for testing from individuals whereby the effects of drugs or alcohol may have altered behaviour and contributed to either a criminal or traffic offence or those persons who are the victims of drug-facilitated crime.
Typically specimens of blood and oral fluid taken by the Queensland Police Service under the requirements of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 are analysed by the laboratory.
Urine drug testing in custodial, probation and parole and drug court
Samples received from Corrective Services are tested to ensure that inmates comply with a prison's drug-free policy.
Samples are received from Drug Court clients to ensure that known drug offenders comply with court-ordered drug rehabilitation programs.
Urine drug monitoring is universally recognised as a significant component to the rehabilitation program.
Organic Chemistry provides an extensive range of organic chemical analyses, phycology and environutrient analyses to support the health of Queenslanders. Our work in monitoring and surveillance, consultancy and research span various work programs within Public Health Sciences including:
- pesticide residues in food, environmental and clinical matrices
- other organic residues such as hydrocarbons in water and food
- endocrine disrupters in water
- disinfection biproducts
- provides expert quantitation for a wide range of organic residues, including pesticides, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals in water and recycled water and disinfection biproducts
- provides testing for algal toxins in water and shellfish toxins in food
- monitoring, research and consultancy and training in enumeration and identification of phytoplankton (particularly freshwater cyanobacteria)
- research in molecular phycology for the identification of toxigenic species
- culture facility for cyanobacteria
- provides environmental nutrient analyses on pristine freshwater, storage water, estuarine water, seawater, effluents and sewage
- sediments, total nutrients and water-soluble nutrients testing
- provider of the NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) Accredited Environmental Nutrient Collaborative Trial
- provider of the NATA Accredited Nutrient Reference Materials
The Food Chemistry laboratory provides analytical testing of food stuffs and advisory services to:
- Environmental Health Services - corporate office
- Regional Environmental Health Services
- other departments, including interstate and federal departments
- occasional non-government client, including international clients.
- food safety:
- chemical e.g. allergens
- foreign matter e.g. glass fragments, mouse droppings
- identity complaints
- surveillance of retail foods for compliance with the Food Standards Code (including species identification)
- nutritional panel analysis (protein, fat including type, carbohydrate, sugars, total dietary fibre, energy value and some vitamins)
- allergens, histamine
- alcoholic beverages
- species identification (fish, meats, plants)
- genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- trace metals including heavy metals
- nutrient metals
Investigative Chemistry is a specialised health facility delivering analytical services on public health, air quality, occupational hygiene and emergency response programs. It specialises in air analysis for volatile organic compounds and maintains excellence through collaborations, education and training and research and development.
The unit also provides training and high level authoritative advice across Queensland Health, other government agencies and other stakeholders in the public health industry, on matters pertaining to population health relevant to Investigative Chemistry.
We attend chemical emergencies in southeast Queensland to assist in the rapid return to normal public and economic life.
Air quality analysis/emergency response
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (to USEPA standards TO11, TO15, TO17).
- chemical analysis for environmental air monitoring
- sick buildings
- chemical emergency response
- workplace exposures to VOCs
- client-specific requests will be considered
Public health investigations
- lead in paint
- migration of elements analysis for toys
- lead and cadmium in ceramic glazes
- chemical analysis for health related consumer complaints
- identification of unknown powders/substances
- asbestos identification
- drug analysis/therapeutic goods
- industrial hemp analysis (Drugs Misuse Act)
- chemical analysis for compliance with Standard for Uniform Scheduling of Drug and Poisons (SUSDP)
- compliance of manufactured products - chemical analysis
- Chinese/alternative herbal medicines
- pesticides formulations
- chemical analysis support to environmental health officers
Inorganic Chemistry undertakes work which has a strong Public Health focus and is involved in a number of programs which have human health implications.
Inorganic Chemistry also provides research and advisory services and support to Forensic investigations. Highly skilled staff contribute to the following Public Health Sciences Programs:
Public Health Sciences Programs
- analysis of waters for potability, irrigation or stock use:
- water investigated includes reticulated water from all over Queensland, bore water, surface water (dams, creeks, rivers etc.), packaged water, dialysis water and purified recycled water
- analysis of fluoride content in water
- environmental investigations of contaminants such as heavy metals, arsenic, mercury etc.
- heavy metals in soils, sediments, dusts, sludges, effluents, paint scrapings
- particle size distribution
- organic carbon in soils and sediments
- routine analysis of clinical specimens (blood, urine, hair etc.) for trace elements including arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, chromium and others on persons occupationally exposed or poisoned
- analysis of nutritional trace elements in foods
- monitoring of dialysis waters
- identification of unknown materials
Food and Nutrition
- trace elements in total diet studies
- speciation of trace elements such as arsenic and mercury in waters and foods