History of Chemical Testing Records

History of Chemical Testing Records




History of Chemical-Testing Records

photo of Chemist Ed Schafer

NWRC Archives is a great resource for information on the history of chemical testing from the 1940s to the present. The Archives contains chemical-testing records from NWRC, then known as the Denver Wildlife Research Center (DWRC), as well as chemical research from the Patuxant Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in Laurel, MD.

Beginning in the 1940s, both DWRC and PWRC worked with the Army Quartermaster Corps testing chemicals, with the bulk of the early research done at PWRC from 1943-1959. After 1959, the chemical-testing operations were shifted to DWRC. Over the next 30 years, tests were completed on approximately 6,500 known and unknown chemicals.

Two publications, commonly known as the “ Red Book” and the “ Blue Book,” grew out of the early chemical testing at PWRC and DWRC. These publications are still regarded as classic and informative texts in the field.  

A unique feature of the chemical testing is the “DRC No.,” which was assigned to each chemical upon its receipt. The DRC No. identification system was the brainchild of Walt Bowles, recipient of four DWRC awards for his contribution to this classification system. For decades, Bowles worked closely with colleague Ed Schafer on the chemical-testing records.

Most of the elaborately-indexed paper records were transferred to various databases during the 1980s and 1990s. The latest iteration, the NWRC Chemical Effects Database, launched in late 2010.

NWRC has consistently illustrated both dedication and innovation in the production and management of chemical-testing records, from Army contracts, to testing unknown chemicals, to the contemporary online databases now available.

Ed Schafer
phoo of Walt Bowles
Walt Bowles

photo of Vern Perry
Vern Perry



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