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Variables affecting the collection and preservation of human scent components through instrumental and biological evaluations

By Davia Tamar Hudson


In certain European countries and the United States of America, canines have been successfully used in human scent identification. There is however, limited scientific knowledge on the composition of human scent and the detection mechanism that produces an alert from canines. This lack of information has resulted in successful legal challenges to human scent evidence in the courts of law. ^ The main objective of this research was to utilize science to validate the current practices of using human scent evidence in criminal cases. The goals of this study were to utilize Headspace Solid Phase Micro Extraction Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC/MS) to determine the optimum collection and storage conditions for human scent samples, to investigate whether the amount of DNA deposited upon contact with an object affects the alerts produced by human scent identification canines, and to create a prototype pseudo human scent which could be used for training purposes. ^ Hand odor samples which were collected on different sorbent materials and exposed to various environmental conditions showed that human scent samples should be stored without prolonged exposure to UVA/UVB light to allow minimal changes to the overall scent profile. Various methods of collecting human scent from objects were also investigated and it was determined that passive collection methods yields ten times more VOCs by mass than active collection methods. ^ Through the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) no correlation was found between the amount of DNA that was deposited upon contact with an object and the alerts that were produced by human scent identification canines. Preliminary studies conducted to create a prototype pseudo human scent showed that it is possible to produce fractions of a human scent sample which can be presented to the canines to determine whether specific fractions or the entire sample is needed to produce alerts by the human scent identification canines.

Topics: Chemistry, Analytical
Publisher: FIU Digital Commons
Year: 2009
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