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Determination of Trace Elemental Concentrations in Document Papers for Forensic Comparison Using Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry

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With improvements in manufacturing procedures, comparing physical characteristics of paper samples may not offer sufficient discrimination among different vendors. In this work, the potential to differentiate paper samples based on trace element concentrations was investigated. Paper samples from two different vendors were microwave-digested and trace element concentrations (Mg, Al, Mn, Fe, Sr, Y, Ba, Ce, and Nd) were determined using inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry. Differences in concentration were assessed statistically using two-way ANOVA and Tukey’s honestly significant differences test. Elemental concentrations were shown to be consistent across a single sheet as well as within a single ream of paper for each vendor. Reams from vendor A were differentiated based on Al and Ba concentration while reams from vendor B were differentiated based on Mg, Mn, and Sr concentrations. Paper was differentiated according to vendor based on significant differences in Ba, Sr, Ce, and Nd concentrations.
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Keywords: document paper; forensic science; inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry; microwave digestion; trace elements

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Forensic Science Program, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. 2: Department of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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