Evaluation of contact and non-contact trapping efficiencies of human scent chemical profiles and their stabilities under different environmental conditions

Paola Alexandra Prada, Florida International University


Establishing an association between the scent a perpetrator left at a crime scene to the odor of the suspect of that crime is the basis for the use of human scent identification evidence in a court of law. Law enforcement agencies gather evidence through the collection of scent from the objects that a perpetrator may have handled during the execution of the criminal act. The collected scent evidence is consequently presented to the canines for identification line-up procedures with the apprehended suspects. Presently, canine scent identification is admitted as expert witness testimony, however, the accurate behavior of the dogs and the scent collection methods used are often challenged by the court system. The primary focus of this research project entailed an evaluation of contact and non-contact scent collection techniques with an emphasis on the optimization of collection materials of different fiber chemistries to evaluate the chemical odor profiles obtained using varying environment conditions to provide a better scientific understanding of human scent as a discriminative tool in the identification of suspects. The collection of hand odor from female and male subjects through both contact and non-contact sampling approaches yielded new insights into the types of VOCs collected when different materials are utilized, which had never been instrumentally performed. Furthermore, the collected scent mass was shown to be obtained in the highest amounts for both gender hand odor samples on cotton sorbent materials. Compared to non-contact sampling, the contact sampling methods yielded a higher number of volatiles, an enhancement of up to 3 times, as well as a higher scent mass than non-contact methods by more than an order of magnitude. The evaluation of the STU-100 as a non-contact methodology highlighted strong instrumental drawbacks that need to be targeted for enhanced scientific validation of current field practices. These results demonstrated that an individual's human scent components vary considerably depending on the method used to collect scent from the same body region. This study demonstrated the importance of collection medium selection as well as the collection method employed in providing a reproducible human scent sample that can be used to differentiate individuals.

Subject Area

Analytical chemistry

Recommended Citation

Prada, Paola Alexandra, "Evaluation of contact and non-contact trapping efficiencies of human scent chemical profiles and their stabilities under different environmental conditions" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3420035.