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Developing a Method for the Collection and Analysis of Burnt Remains for the Detection and Identification of Ignitable Liquid Residues Using Body Bags, Dynamic Headspace Sampling, and TD-GC×GC-TOFMS

Centre for Forensic Science, University of Technology Sydney, P.O. Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia
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Separations 2018, 5(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/separations5030046
Received: 11 July 2018 / Revised: 11 August 2018 / Accepted: 30 August 2018 / Published: 17 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Fire Debris Analysis)
In cases of suspected arson, a body may be intentionally burnt to cause loss of life, dispose of remains, or conceal identification. A primary focus of a fire investigation, particularly involving human remains, is to establish the cause of the fire; this often includes the forensic analysis of fire debris for the detection of ignitable liquid residues (ILRs). Commercial containers for the collection of fire debris evidence include metal cans, glass jars, and polymer/nylon bags of limited size. This presents a complication in cases where the fire debris consists of an intact, or partially intact, human cadaver. This study proposed the use of a body bag as an alternative sampling container. A method was developed and tested for the collection and analysis of ILRs from burnt porcine remains contained within a body bag using dynamic headspace sampling (using an Easy-VOC™ hand-held manually operated grab-sampler and stainless steel sorbent tubes containing Tenax TA) followed by thermal desorption comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography–time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TD-GC×GC-TOFMS). The results demonstrated that a body bag containing remains burnt with gasoline tested positive for the presence of gasoline, while blank body bag controls and a body bag containing remains burnt without gasoline tested negative. The proposed method permits the collection of headspace samples from burnt remains before the remains are removed from the crime scene, limiting the potential for contamination and the loss of volatiles during transit and storage. View Full-Text
Keywords: forensic chemistry; fire debris analysis; fire debris packaging; burnt remains; ignitable liquid residues (ILRs); volatile organic compounds (VOCs); dynamic headspace sampling; thermal desorption; comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC); time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS) forensic chemistry; fire debris analysis; fire debris packaging; burnt remains; ignitable liquid residues (ILRs); volatile organic compounds (VOCs); dynamic headspace sampling; thermal desorption; comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC); time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS)
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Nizio, K.D.; Forbes, S.L. Developing a Method for the Collection and Analysis of Burnt Remains for the Detection and Identification of Ignitable Liquid Residues Using Body Bags, Dynamic Headspace Sampling, and TD-GC×GC-TOFMS. Separations 2018, 5, 46.

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