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The Stability of Collected Human Scent Under Various Environmental Conditions

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Human scent evidence collected from objects at a crime scene is used for scent discrimination with specially trained canines. Storage of the scent evidence is usually required yet no optimized storage protocol has been determined. Storage containers including glass, polyethylene, and aluminized pouches were evaluated to determine the optimal medium for storing human scent evidence of which glass was determined to be the optimal storage matrix. Hand odor samples were collected on three different sorbent materials, sealed in glass vials and subjected to different storage environments including room temperature, −80°C conditions, dark storage, and UVA/UVB light exposure over a 7-week period. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the headspace of the samples were extracted and identified using solid-phase micro-extraction–gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (SPME–GC/MS). Three-dimensional covariance mapping showed that glass containers subjected to minimal UVA/UVB light exposure provide the most stable environment for stored human scent samples.
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Keywords: forensic chemistry; forensic science; gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; human scent; solid-phase micro-extraction; storage; volatile organic compounds

Document Type: Research Article

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

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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