Areas of Investigation


Fire and Explosion

Every fire/explosion has a unique set of circumstances and requires investigation of the entire scene. This methodology-based inquiry considers every component of the incident scene using the most current industry standards and techniques. The Fire Investigator is charged with recreating the scene through an on-site inspection of the incident area, evidence collection and examination, selection of laboratory testing, interpretation of data, modeling, and witness testimony. A fire or explosion origin and cause determination is derived from uncovering facts, applying NFPA methods in all investigations and using all of the gathered information to pin-point the incident cause.

Chemical Transportation Incidents

Road, marine and rail incidents involving flammable and/or hazardous cargo can result in fires and/or explosions. It is imperative to determine the root cause and sequence of events that led to the incident. A comprehensive response including incident scene management, evidence collection, laboratory and technical analysis are all crucial in a complete investigation. Gossman Forensics provides forensic analysis expertise to uncover factual components that led to the incident and provide expert witness services for litigation.

Odor

Odors or scents consist of organic compounds, although some simple compounds not containing carbon can also be odorants. Odor pollution is a significant aspect of a regions air quality, and it is often regulated as a nuisance. Unpleasant odors can arise from specific industrial processes, adversely affecting workers and even residents downwind of the industry. The most common sources of industrial odor arise from sewage treatment plants, refineries, animal rendering factories, and industries processing chemicals (such as sulfur) which have odorous characteristics. Not all odors are toxic but they can be considered a nuisance. They can have negative effects on both the community and the business responsible for the odors. The quality of life for individuals living near an odor source may be impacted greatly.

Gossman Forensics is able to identify the potential source of odors and chemical(s) responsible for odor complaints. Our team is able to determine if the odor represents a nuisance, health issue and disclose the potential health effects of exposure. We understand chemical properties and interactions that can affect odors.

Our services:

  • Investigate odor complaints

  • Identify potential sources of odors

  • Identify chemical or chemical mixtures responsible for odors

  • Expert witness in odor chemistry

Chemical Exposure

Chemical exposure occurs when a chemical comes in contact with your body either directly or through another substance contaminated by a chemical. The three main routes of exposure are through inhalation, skin or eye contact and/or ingestion. This can occur in various ways and can result in varying symptoms with different degrees of danger or outcomes. Chemical exposures are generally divided into two categories: acute and chronic. Symptoms resulting from acute exposures usually occur during or shortly after exposure to a sufficiently high concentration of a contaminant. The concentration required to produce such effects varies widely from chemical to chemical. The term chronic exposure generally refers to exposures to low concentrations of a contaminant over a long period of time. The low concentrations required to produce symptoms of chronic exposure depend upon the chemical, the duration of each exposure, and the number of exposures. For a given contaminant, the symptoms of an acute exposure may be completely different from those resulting from chronic exposure. In order to reduce harmful effects to people, permissible exposure limits (PEL) have been determined for many compounds and exposure levels are monitored and enforced by both state and federal government.

Gossman Forensics provides expert witness assistance in forensic chemical and hazardous analysis for products involved in chemical exposure, fires and explosions, and industrial accidents. We are experienced in evaluating product performance, including failure issues resulting in injuries and/or death. Our team is able to assess and consult on chemical safety practices including chemical storage, labeling and handling.

Our services include:

  • Evaluation of a chemical or chemical mixtures and provide risk assessments.

  • Identification of the level and type of exposure and assess the potential harmful effects.

  • Expert for chemical exposure injuries or death resulting from chronic or acute exposure.

  • Expert for chemical exposure injury or death for products involved in fires and explosions, industrial accidents, and marine accidents.

  • Expert for product liability involving product chemical composition and product failure.

  • Expert for fate and transport of chemicals including workplace exposure and off-site impact determinations.

  • Evaluate chemical safety practices including chemical storage, labeling and handling.

  • Expert in warning labels on chemicals.

  • Expert in safety communications - including Safety Data Sheets.

Industrial Accidents

An industrial accident, or incident is a sudden, unforeseen work-related event in which an injury (regardless of severity) or fatality occurred. Their causes are rooted in products or processes in industry. Incidents are unplanned events and generally give little to no warning. This can result in loss of life, various levels of injury, property damage, environmental impacts and livelihood. These events rarely result from a single, easily identified cause and can be attributed to unsafe working conditions, defective equipment or materials, unforeseen chemical reactions, supervisory conduct, poor training and/or inadequate safety practices. Gossman Forensics can provide a full range of industrial expert services. Our team is experienced in evidence collection, investigation procedures, analytical methods, root cause analysis, cause and origin investigation and litigation support services including detailed reports and expert witness testimony. We can guide a company through the HAZOP or similar hazard analysis process to prevent future accidents.

Our services include:

  • Industrial accident investigation including fire and explosions in land based and marine environments

  • Evidence collection and analysis

  • Laboratory analytical testing and interpretation

  • Standards and regulatory compliance

  • Analysis of product safety and product failures

  • Proper labeling including warnings and instructions

  • Expert witness

Deep Tissue Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are caused by exposure to a harmful substance(s), such as a strong acid or base. These types of burns do not need a heat source to cause corrosion to the skin or tissues. Certain chemicals can also penetrate into tissue without obvious damage to the skin. Hydrofluoric acid can cause particularly deep burns that may not become symptomatic until sometime after exposure. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is a strong acid and is used industrially but can also be found in retail products. It acts as a corrosive agent and as a metabolic poison. It can cause changes in calcium, magnesium and potassium within the body, some of which can be fatal. Exposures to HF are usually very serious and will penetrate any tissue it comes in contact with. Concentrated HF, liquid or vapor, may cause severe burns, metabolic imbalances, pulmonary edema, blindness and life threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Even moderate exposures to concentrated HF may rapidly progress to a fatality if left untreated.

Chemical Release, Pollution, Contamination

 Proper investigation of releases to the environment requires not only an understanding of the process but also of the regulations and how they apply to the source as well as the theory and practice of sampling and analysis. Our experienced team of professionals have determined regulatory requirements, written test plans, participated and overseen execution of these plans, and monitored and evaluated quality of the data for a number of devices under a variety of conditions. The experience of Gossman Forensics in executing all these functions in sampling and analysis provides our team with a detailed knowledge of needed testing. This experience is invaluable to the client in potential litigation by acquiring the appropriate and realistic quality data needed for investigations into events that might have contaminated air, water, or land.

Enforcement Issues

Environmental regulations and compliance issues at the state and/or federal level can result in large fines. Compliance issues are often cited in litigation cases to justify damages. Determining regulatory compliance is often an essential factor for any litigation process. Gossman Forensics provides expertise and technical support in regulatory and permit enforcement. Air, water, waste and hazardous waste compliance and enforcement issues, as well as OSHA and MSHA compliance are all areas of experience and expertise. Adjudicated permits can often benefit from third party expertise to advise and testify during hearings. Gossman Forensics provides expertise and technical support in all areas of regulatory and permit enforcement.

PCBs and Dioxins

Since the beginning of his professional career, David Gossman has looked closely at emissions of what the public has come to know as dioxins or furans. Polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins (PCDDs) and Polychlorinated dibenzo-furans (PCDFs) came under increasing scrutiny in the early 1990s as a result of regulations involving emissions from boilers and industrial furnaces (BIFs). David Gossman’s firm was at that time extensively involved in the compliance testing in the cement industry, as primary contractor on some of these numerous tests, designing/planning them from the ground up, as well as partial involvement in several other tests. He is the author of a publication entitled “Understanding Dioxin Testing,” and he has co-authored several articles on the subject including one commenting on an EPA Dioxin health assessment. David Gossman’s background in interdisciplinary science, his experience with waste management, with industrial chemical processes, and with governmental regulations and testing and their requirements, makes him uniquely suited to understand the complexities of your dioxin legal case.