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Detection of Gunshot Residue in Blowfly Larvae and Decomposing Porcine Tissue Using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

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Blowfly larvae and porcine tissue contaminated with gunshot residue (GSR) were collected during summer and winter months, over a 37-day and a 60-day sampling period, respectively. Wound samples were microwave-digested and analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the detection of antimony, barium, and lead. During summer, the 37-day sampling period encompassed all stages of decomposition, except skeletonization. The three elements were detected in larvae only on days 3 and 4 after death but were detected at significant levels in tissue samples throughout the entire sampling period. In winter, no significant decomposition was observed throughout the 60-day sampling. Although temperatures were too low for blowfly activity, the three elements were detected in the tissue samples at relatively constant, significant levels. Hence, GSR determination in tissue was more dependent on decomposition stage rather than time since death.

Keywords: blowfly larvae; forensic science; gunshot residue; inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry; microwave digestion; scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive spectroscopy

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: May 1, 2010


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