The Differentiation of the Volatile Organic Signatures of Individuals Through SPME-GC/MS of Characteristic Human Scent Compounds

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Human scent evidence is utilized as an investigative tool through canine scent discriminations based on the premise that human scent is an individualizing characteristic. This study describes the development of what is effectively a human scent barcode consisting of the relative ratios of an individual’s “primary odor” compounds utilized to determine a reproducible and individualizing profile which can be stored in a searchable database for a proof of concept of human scent as a biometric measure. Triplicate hand odor samples were evaluated from 10 subjects utilizing solid phase micro-extraction gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS) and compared via Spearman Rank Correlations. Narrowing the compounds considered for each subject to only those common in all three samples, or a subject’s “primary odor constituents,” produced a greater degree of both individualization and discrimination; at both correlation thresholds of 0.9 and 0.8, the individuals were correctly discriminated and identified in 99.54% of the cases.

Keywords: Spearman Rank Correlations; forensic science; human scent evidence; individualization; primary odor; solid phase micro-extraction gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, International Forensic Research Institute, Florida International University, University Park, CP 345, Miami, FL 33199.

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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