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Characterization of the Products Formed by the Reaction of Trichlorocyanuric Acid with 2-Propanol

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We report a recent investigation into the death of a cat that was initially thought to involve intentionally burning the animal via the use of an ignitable liquid. The exposure of the animal to flame was ruled out. Instead, forensic investigation revealed the intentional mixing together of a common outdoor swimming pool chlorinator, trichlorocyanuric acid (TCCA), and 2-propanol (aka, isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol). The reaction of these two chemicals resulted in the formation of cyanuric acid residue, hydrochloric acid, and the evolution of a significant volume of chlorine gas. Further α-chlorination side reactions also occurred between 2-propanol and TCCA to produce a variety of chlorinated 2-propanone species that were detected on the submitted evidence. The identification of the products of both the main reaction and the side reactions allowed the authors to determine what chemicals were originally mixed together by the culprit.
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Keywords: 1,3,5-trichloro-1,3,5-triazinane-2,4,6-trione; 2-propanol; animal cruelty; chlorine gas; cyanuric acid; forensic science; isopropyl alcohol; symclosene; trichlorocyanuric acid; trichloroisocyanuric acid

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Trace Evidence Services, National Centre for Forensic Services—Alberta, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 15707-118 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, Canada T5V 1B7.

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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