ATT-Tactical- Serving Warfighters and Crimefighters since 1985
US Dept. of State  ITAR / DDTC Registered  Manufacturer  / DUNS 96-648-0345  / CAGE 3BNS6
NYS Vender ID # 1000034176  / NJS Vender ID # 13262250 / GML 103
NYS & NJS Registered Explosives Dealer
FAR, FAR2 and SOP 00 11 -Compliant  / WAWF - Compliant / IPP - Compliant  / BAA & TAA Compliant
Defense Contractor since 1994
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Explosives Trace Testing Tool for Scanners & Canine

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Microtrace™ Explosives Marker Pens
 SOLD ONLY TO VERIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, GOVERNMENTAL CONTRACTORS AND DETECTOR DOG TRAINING COMPANIES.

Consisting of a standard felt-tip marker pen with a trace of  REAL explosives suspended in an alcohol carrier, this is the simplest and least-expensive method to test mechanical Explosive Detectors and interim test Bomb Dogs.

 Police officers, dog trainers, customs officers and airport security inspectors, need  a simple method of depositing a trace sample of explosives simulants. Until now, this has meant compliance with onerous licensing, shipping and storage requirements.

    We are the exclusive distributor of this series of fiber-tip marking pens, each containing MICROTRACE™ amounts of different explosive particles, simulated G-agent, in a volatile solvent.   The metal-bodied markers operate on a one-way release valve, activated only when the user applies pressure to the tip, and draws it across the surface of an object.  The smear left on the surface, while invisible, can be detected  by a trained dog or picked up by a mechanical sniffer.. The user dabs a small amount on a surface, allowing 45-60 seconds for the carrier solvent to evaporate. Then the dog can be trained-- or tested-- on the residue.   Deposits can be placed on porous and non-porous surfaces, including wood, cloth, plastics, metal, stone, brick, concrete, carpets, floor tiles, curtains, luggage, etc. The residue will remain active and detectable for some time depending on the ambient temperature, humidity, size of deposit, depth of deposit, porosity of the surface and age of the marker pen.

   Available formulations include  but are not limited to PETN;  RDX;  TNT; EGDN; MMAN; Detonating Cord; Potassium Nitrate; o-MNT;  p-MNT, DNT; Nitroglycerin; Ammonium Nitrate; Potassium Perchlorate; Sodium Chlorate; Sodium Perchlorate; Smokeless Powder (Nitrocellulose); Black Powder; Dynamite; C4; Detasheet;  Watergel Explosives; and Urea Nitrate. The Taggants explosive DMNB used in Europe, is also available.  

Each pen contains a maximum 14 ml of solvent with dissolved explosives at various approved levels. The maximum explosive concentration level depends on the explosive involved, ranging from one microgram per microliter to 7 micrograms per microliter.  In some pens the law sets no maximum concentrations. Custom concentrations can also be made within limits. One of our markers also contains G-Agent a nerve agent simulant.

Users can purchase control pens with solvent only, (either methanol, ethanol or isopropyl alcohol in combination with water), for use in dog training and testing. 

   The various formulations are available as single pens or in several types of kits, including a lockable metal case and a lockable plastic Pelican case.

   The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATFE) have now approved the explosive marker pens as NON-regulated items for use in the U.S.A. BATFE requires the same documentary controls for the markers as for most other explosives, and purchases must be channeled through us. 

USE OF MICROTRACE™ EXPLOSIVE MARKER PENS
These markers have an aluminum body and a plastic valve / fiber tip assembly. Each marker is shipped with approximately 14 milliliters of carrier solvent, containing either one of nineteen dissolved explosives.
To use these markers, SHAKE WELL, then uncap the marker by twisting and pulling until the cap comes off. The fiber tip is located above a one-way, spring-loaded valve, in the end assembly. Apply the tip to a surface onto which you want to deposit a trace line of solvent with its dissolved active agent of explosive.  Press the tip firmly onto the deposition surface, as you draw the tip across the surface. Pressing down on the tip releases the spring-loaded internal valve, and allows the liquid solution to flow through the fiber tip onto the target surface. A porous surface will absorb solvent and active agent. They will sit on the surface of non-porous materials.
If you wish to leave a very fire line of liquid on the target surface, your pressure should be less intense. This will allow the valve to open only partially, and the amount that flows to the tip will be reduced. Visually check the target surface, to see the width of liquid solution that has been deposited. You may make a wider line by increasing the pressure of the tip on the surface. A longer line will be produced if you draw the tip across a larger area of the target surface. After trying it a few times, and checking the surface before the solvent evaporates, you will get a feel for the amount of pressure to use. Once the solvents evaporates (allow 30 - 60 seconds), only a micro amount of the active agent is left on the surface. It the surface is porous, some of the agent will be deposited into the pores or grooves below the target surface, and is more impervious to removal. The marker contains no adhesives or oil. Therefore, once the solvent evaporates, micro amounts of the explosive agent remain on the target surface only by natural adhesion. In time, the agent will completely evaporate. It may be rubbed off sooner by friction through contact with other items rubbing across the surface.

                After each use, immediately re-cap the marker firmly. The cap should be twisted and pressed tightly so it is in intimate contact with the plastic valve housing. The valve should not release solvent or agent, and is designed not to leak in any position. Nevertheless, tight re-capping, and upright storage in a cool place (refrigerated if possible), out of direct sunlight, will ensure no agent is wasted. Shelf life is 10-12 months.

To avoid cross-contamination, use only one marker at a time. Replace the cap of one marker on it’s proper valve housing before you uncap and use another marker. Replacing the cap of a marker containing one agent onto a marker containing another agent, will cross-contaminate both marker tips. You will then deposit traces of two different agents onto the same target surface, until all transferred molecules from the cap will eventually be washed off the tip by repeated applications. However, there is no way of knowing when all cross-contamination has been removed, so be cautious when replacing caps.

Avoid passing one pen tip over an area where you have already traced a line with another pen containing a different agent, as this will result in minor cross-contamination, and could confuse a detector dog.

 Note: These markers are not designed or recommended for use in calibrating explosive vapor detectors or particulate detectors. They are for canine training/testing. The liquid carrier solvent tends to trap particles on a surface until fully evaporated, preventing uptake through the vacuum inlet of an EVD. This can result in no "hits" up to 3-4 minutes.

Chart showing some typical explosive vapor pressures at 77 degrees F.
The equilibrium vapor pressure is expressed in parts per billion (ppb) explosives to air

DETECTION
CATEGORY

COMPOUNDS

VAPOR
PRESSURE

Vapor

EGDN (ethylene Glycol Dinitrate)

60,000 ppb

Vapor

EGMN (Ethylene Glycol Mononitrate)

>60,000 ppb

Vapor

MMAN (Monomethyl Amine Nitrate)

>60,000 ppb

Vapor

o-MNT (Orthomononitrotoluene)

>200,000 ppb

Vapor

p-MNT (Para-Mononitrotoluene)

>200,000 ppb

Vapor

NG (Nitroglycerin)

409 ppb

Vapor

DNT (Di-Nitrotoluene)

145 ppb

Vapor

TNT (Tri-Nitrotoluene)

9 ppb

Particulate

RDX (1,2,5, Trinitro-1,3,5 Triamino)

0.006 ppb

Particulate

PETN (Pentaerythritoltetranitrate)

0.018 ppb

Particulate

AN (Ammonium Nitrate)

12 ppb

Particulate

Potassium Nitrate

No Vapors

Particulate

Semtex (Czech plastic explosive)

0.002 ppb

Particulate

C4 (US & Canadian plastic explosive)

0.00006 ppb

Particulate

Detasheet (Flexible sheet explosive)

<0.0001 ppb

Particulate

Primacord (Detonating cord)

<0.0001 ppb

                From the chart, it is apparent that EGDN and Mononitrotoluene explosives will quickly start to evaporate when the marker pen is applied to a surface, due to their high vapor pressure. The rate of evaporation is strongly dependent on the prevailing ambient temperature. The hotter the environment becomes, the shorter the expected lifetime of the explosive deposit on the marked surface. The concentration of relatively volatile explosives decays exponentially.

                Using an average figure of about 5-10 minutes to begin testing a detector dog after marking a surface, the concentration of some explosives on a hot surface may become too low to alert the dog. For less volatile explosives like NG, DNT and TNT, the marker pen residue on the target surface can remain for hours. The decay curve for surface concentration versus time is slow, but again, surface and/or surrounding temperatures are the main determining factors for availability of the explosive after applying a trace from the marker pen onto the test surface.

                For non-volatile explosives, generally their residue will hang around on a surface for several days. Even 20-30 degrees F. Above room temperature would not be sufficient to evaporate the explosive from the surface. Thus, there should be no problem detecting C4, RDX, PETN, TNT or Detasheet after 4 hours, 12 hours or even 48 hours.

              
The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved these explosive marker pens as NON-REGULATED and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATFE) have approved the explosive marker pens as NON-REGULATED "Special Explosive Device" items for entry into the U.S.A.

 BATFE still requires the same documentary record keeping for the markers, (as for other explosives), and each is sold with a lot number and filling date on the label.


How to use these MICROTRACE Explosives Markers in the training and interim testing of bomb dogs

Civilian commercial entities no longer need an explosives license to purchase, store or transport these markers.

In October, 2007, the US Dept of Transportation exempted these marker pens from any special transportation restrictions. However, under US Postal Regulations, these products cannot be sent via mail.
 On May 3rd, 2006, after reviewing this product and its previous history of use since 1997, the BATFE exempted the MICROTRACE© EXPLOSIVE MARKERS in accordance with the federal regulations 27CFR 555.32.  The markers, while still classified as "EXPLOSIVES", are considered "SPECIAL EXPLOSIVE DEVICES" and are exempt from the requirements of 27 CFR 555, when utilized only for their intended purpose. This exemption is a granted "VARIANCE" from federal regulations. This exemption/variance will remain in effect only as long as the purchaser/end-user does not alter the markers in any way or utilize them to manufacture different devices. BATFE ALSO ADVISES THAT THIS VARIANCE CONVEYS NO RIGHTS OR PRIVILEGES CONTRARY TO ANY OTHER FEDERAL STATE AND/OR LOCAL LAWS.

BATFE still requires the same documentary record keeping for these markers, (as for other explosives)and each is sold with a lot number and filling date on the label.

A simple Acquisition / Disposition Record Book detailing the date acquired, manufacturer of item received, explosive weight of item received, any manufacturers marks on items received, date when permanently removed and/or destroyed.

One additional paperwork requirement is the maintaining of a daily inspection log book detailing the items in possession.

Storage can be as simple as an .30-cal ammo can kept in a refrigerator. We strongly suggest a key-lock be used for security.

As with all explosives, a detailed entry in your Acquisition and Disposition records MUST reflect the circumstances, methods and results of said destruction, and subtractions MUST be made from standing inventory totals.

                The maximums shown below are the maximum allowable concentrations in 14 milliliters of carrier solvent, the capacity of one marker, that can be manufactured and imported by the manufacturer.

MICROTRACE™ EXPLOSIVE MARKER PENS CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING MAXIMUM TRACES OF EXPLOSIVES

  1. Nitroglycerin: 1 microgram per microliter
  2. EGDN: 1 microgram per microliter
  3. EGMN: 1 microgram per microliter
  4. MMAN: 1 microgram per microliter
  5. o-MNT: 1 microgram per microliter
  6. p-MNT: 1 microgram per microliter
  7. Ammonium Nitrate: 1 microgram per microliter
  8. Potassium Nitrate: 1 microgram per microliter
  9. DNT: 1 microgram per microliter
  10. RDX: 3.5 micrograms per microliter
  11. PETN: 3.5 micrograms per microliter
  12. TNT: 7 micrograms per microliter

PRICE LIST
FOR MICROTRACE™ EXPLOSIVE MARKER PENS


Explosive Formulation

Catalog Number

Unit Price
(Lots of 12)

Qty. Price (50+)

PETN

EP-PETN-M

$65.00

$55.00

RDX

EP-RDX-M

$65.00

$55.00

TNT

EP-TNT-M

$65.00

$55.00

Nitroglycerin

EP-NG-M

$65.00

$55.00

Ammonium Nitrate

EP-AN-M

$65.00

$55.00

Black Powder (Potassium Nitrate)

EP-BP-M

$65.00

$55.00

Potassium Perchlorate

EP-PC-M

$65.00

$55.00

Sodium Perchlorate

EP-SC-M

$65.00

$55.00

Smokeless Powder

EP-SP-M

$65.00

$55.00

Watergel Explosive

EP-WG-M

$65.00

$55.00

Dinitrotoluene (DNT)

EP-DNT-M

$65.00

$55.00

DMNB (Taggants)

EP-DMNB-M

$65.00

$55.00

C4

EP-C4-M

$65.00

$55.00

SEMTEX-H

EP-SEM-H-M

$65.00

$55.00

o-MNT

EP-o-MNT-M

$65.00

$55.00

p-MNT

EP-p-MNT-M

$65.00

$55.00

EGDN

EP-EGDN-M

$65.00

$55.00

MAN

EP-MAN-M

$65.00

$55.00

Control Test Pens
(hexane/acetone/methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol only)

CPH, CPA, CPMA, or CPIA

$55.00

$45.00

Unit price is based on a minimum 12 pen order. 50+ pricing is not mix and match

KITS:
K-EP-20-M: Containing one of each explosive marker pen and a control solvent marker pen with a specially manufactured lockable case,                                           Price: $1100.00
Minimum of 10 kits

Spare acrylic fiber tips with chisel, pointed and bullet end shapes  @ $35 pack of 10


Custom Kits: Specify requirements and request quote.

ALL PRODUCTS LISTED ABOVE, IMPORT CUSTOMS DUTY, BROKERAGE FEES,
SHIPPING AND HANDLING CHARGES ARE EXTRA

  SHELF LIFE AND AGING
A potential problem arises for certain users of the marker pens, and that their limited shelf life under elevated storage temperatures. Some of the 5 solvents used have a high vapor pressure at room temperature, meaning that they are very volatile and try to escape from their container through even the tiniest gap. The marker pens are designed to be liquid tight, but not vapor tight. Therefore, some seepage will occur over time even if the markers are tightly capped. If we examine the evaporation speed of hexane, we find that it has a rate of evaporation greater then methanol. The consequence of this effect is the increasing concentration of the explosive solution, both with the lapse of time and the frequency of use. It is recommended that marker pens should be shaken frequently prior to and during each use to help disperse throughout the solution any explosive that may have settled out of the solvent.

The weight of the marker pen does not change significantly during its useful life. An empty marker pen weights 9.70 grams. A filled marker pen weighs 18.4 grams. The net weight of the solvent/explosive solution is 8.7 grams. Evaporation of solution from a capped marker pen is approximately 30 milligrams per day. Estimated shelf life of a marker pen ¾ filled with PETN/hexane solution - an air expansion bubble occupies about ¼ of the reservoir – is approximately 9 months at room temperature. This is about 72 degrees F.. At ambient temperature that is increased by 50 degrees, as in a hot vehicle, the solvent evaporation rate is higher and the estimated shelf life is only 4-5 months.

Rate of hexane evaporation was determined by our research chemist consultant using the weight loss method, as being 0.8 mg / hour or 19.2 mg / 24 hour day, at room temperature. In is important to note that as the solvent portion of the liquid reservoir evaporates, the concentration of PETN in the remaining solvent will increase. The rate of increase is directly proportional to the rate of solvent evaporation.

Using this example of the PETN marker pen, after 30 days, 0.873 ml of hexane will evaporate, which is roughly 11% of the total solvent in the fluid reservoir. This will correspond to a PETN concentration of 11%. Or instead of the concentration being 1 nanogram (ng) per microliter (ul), after this evaporation period it will now be 1.11 ng / ml. After 6 months of storage and evaporation, a 66% increase in PETN concentration can be expected. This would correspond to 1.66 ng / ml. In tests using a Scintrex Explosive Vapor Detector, the marker pen produced just such a high concentration, giving a signal as high as 850 mV, which will not overload the analyzer. The instrument confirms the increasing concentration in the marker pens, with elapsed time.

Given that the solvent evaporates, and after a period, there may not be any solvent left to enable testing, we have established that the longest expected shelf life from date of filling is 10 months at best. With frequent use, the marker pen will dry out in 20 days or less. Since the explosive portion of the solution is not volatile as the solvent, the concentration of explosive will increase as time goes by and also depending on the frequency of use of the product.

If possible it is best to refrigerate the marker pens at or just slightly above the freezing mark. This procedure will reduce evaporation, as the solvent is less volatile at reduced temperatures. Sealing the marker pens in a vapor-tight container with an O-ring seal and a threaded cap will further reduce loss of solvent. If this container is capable of being pressurized by compressed air injection, solvent loss should be near zero as ambient pressure within the storage container can be made to exceed the solvent vapor pressure. A metal container, such as a large diameter plumbing pipe with threaded end caps, would be ideal. This can be fitted with an ordinary tire valve and a pressure gauge, to allow for compressed air pressurization and a reading of the pressure levels.

DESTRUCTION OF MICROTRACE™ EXPLOSIVE MARKER PENS
These products will become depleted with use, and the contents tend to evaporate with the passage of time. Recommended maximum shelf life under refrigerated storage is 10-12 months. Under higher temperature and humidity conditions, depletion of the solvents or evaporation of the trace agents will be faster, (4-6 months) and the depleted units will have to be disposed of sooner. These products should not be disposed of casually in your garbage!

All explosives and volatile solvents carry an element of inherent danger, even in trace quantities. Remote burning is the recommended method of destruction using a bed of combustibles which will produce little or no air pollution or soil / ground water pollution. Your burning should be done in an open area without any other combustibles nearby, including grass, trees or buildings. A bed of crumpled newspapers, wood shavings, contents of a paper shredder, or like material should be prepared on mineral soil, on a windless day. The bed should be several inches thick and be designed to allow free passage of air for thorough burning. There should also be a combustible train several feet long, leading away from the bed. This allows you to run for cover as the flame front heads toward the main bed. You should be a minimum of 50 feet away when the combustible train burns to the main bed of material and marker pens.


Uncap each marker pen and place it on the bed of combustibles, leaving at least 6” of separation between them. Pressure, caused by internal heat buildup from the flames, will expel the solvent through the fiber tip. This could produce a mild “rocket effect”, and that is another reason why it is necessary that you retire to a minimum of 50 feet safety distance under or behind cover. With explosives—even in trace amounts—there is always a chance of a detonation occurring. Ignite the end of the train and run for cover.

 Burning should be done in a remote area where the public does not have access during the operation. Kerosene or diesel fuel will help ensure ignition and a longer burn time when spread over the combustible bed prior to ignition. However, use of such liquid accelerants may violate local, state or federal anti-pollution laws. Check first with governing authorities for their recommendations. Remove the carrying container for the accelerants to a safe distance before igniting the burning train.


Once burning has been completed and all ash or other residue from the marker pens has cooled down, return to check that there are no intact marker pens. The plastic parts should be charred and as the marker pens are thin aluminum, will probably be melted and distorted. The heat of the fire is sufficient to destroy the solvents and the active explosive agents in the marker pens and on the labels. Do not attempt to remove the plastic housing which holds the fiber tip, from the marker pen body. Do not probe the inside of the marker pen or its components with a metal object or anything else, as a detonation is possible.

       

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