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Open AccessArticle

A Longitudinal Study of Decomposition Odour in Soil Using Sorbent Tubes and Solid Phase Microextraction

Centre for Forensic Science, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia
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Chromatography 2014, 1(3), 120-140; https://doi.org/10.3390/chromatography1030120
Received: 27 May 2014 / Revised: 14 July 2014 / Accepted: 25 July 2014 / Published: 30 July 2014
Odour profiling of decomposed remains is important for understanding the mechanisms that cadaver dogs and forensically-relevant insects use to locate decomposed remains. The decomposition odour profile is complex and has been documented in outdoor terrestrial environments. The purpose of this study was to perform longitudinal analysis of the volatile organic compound (VOC) profile in soils associated with decomposed remains across all stages of decomposition. Two VOC collection techniques (sorbent tubes and solid phase microextraction) were used to collect a wider analyte range and to investigate differences in collection techniques. Pig carcasses were placed in an outdoor research facility in Australia to model the decomposition process and VOCs were collected intermittently over two months. VOCs of interest were identified over the duration of the trial, showing distinct trends in compound evolution and disappearance. The collection techniques were complementary, representing different subsets of VOCs from the overall profile. Sorbent tubes collected more decomposition-specific VOCs and these compounds were more effective at characterising the matrix over an extended period. Using both collection techniques improves the likelihood of identifying the complete VOC profile of decomposition odour. Such information is important for the search and recovery of victim remains in various stages of decomposition. View Full-Text
Keywords: volatile organic compounds; decomposition chemistry; gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; GC-MS; human remains search; VOC collection volatile organic compounds; decomposition chemistry; gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; GC-MS; human remains search; VOC collection
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MDPI and ACS Style

Perrault, K.A.; Stuart, B.H.; Forbes, S.L. A Longitudinal Study of Decomposition Odour in Soil Using Sorbent Tubes and Solid Phase Microextraction. Chromatography 2014, 1, 120-140.

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