Introduction

TEMPLATE – Article

TEMPLATE – Article

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources

Publication

Forensic Chemistry, September 2021

Authors

Michelle N. Torres | Florida International University
José R. Almirall | Florida International University

Abstract

A novel dynamic headspace extraction device, the capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) was coupled to a person-portable GC–MS for the analysis of ignitable liquid residues (ILR) sampled from simulated fire debris. A benchtop GC–MS was used as a benchmark for the performance of the portable GC–MS. The use of a paper cup in conjunction with the CMV for in-field sampling of the VOCs associated with ILRs is presented for the first time. A five-minute sampling/extraction protocol was sufficient to recover six (6) analytes: toluene, ethylbenzene, mxylene, o-xylene, 4-ethyltoluene, and 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene from a 0.01 μL spike of gasoline, with typical mass recoveries of 4–24 ng. Extractions from water-logged debris resulted in reliable detection of the same six compounds but up to 62% less was retained relative to dry debris. Recoveries for detected analytes ranged between 1 and 5% at several solution spike volumes suggesting proportional retention by the CMV. The CMV also demonstrated greater extraction capabilities than the portable GC–MS air sampling wand. Out of a 20-component mixture, 17 compounds were detected compared to the wand’s 13, with the majority of these at higher overall intensities for CMV. An overall 21-minute analytical method was developed using the CMV/Cup protocol capable of detecting several ILR-associated compounds at up to 10x greater sensitivity than traditional extraction techniques such as activated charcoal strips and SPME fibers.



Funding for this article was provided by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contact us at ForensicCOE@rti.org with any questions and subscribe to our newsletter for notifications.


Related Content

Hair Root Staining – What Can Hematoxylin Do for Your Laboratory?

This webinar originally occurred on August 16, 2022 Duration: 1 hour Overview Hair evidence collected as part of a forensic investigation has the potential to provide valuable source information through DNA analysis of its root. In the years prior to…