Performance testing of commercial containers for collection and storage of fire debris evidence
Abbreviated Journal Title
J. Forensic Sci.
forensic science; fire debris; evidence container; BAGS; Medicine, Legal
Fire debris evidence may contain ignitable liquid residues valuable in the investigation of a potential arson scene. The ability to obtain evidence containers that are contaminant-free and vapor-tight is essential to the analysis and storage of fire debris evidence. Commercial containers such as metal "paint" cans, glass mason jars, and polymer bags are often employed as fire debris evidence containers. The purpose of this research was to determine which of these three types of containers provided the most vapor-tight seal for the prevention of ignitable liquid vapor loss and to assess the potential for cross-contamination. Leak rates for each type of container were measured under controlled conditions. Simple mixtures of hydrocarbons were utilized in these experiments. Leak rates were determined based on the amounts of hydrocarbon recovered from activated charcoal located outside the test container and within a secondary container. Quantitation of the hydrocarbons recovered from activated charcoal was calculated using external standard calibration curves following analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The results demonstrated that glass jars had the fastest leak rate followed by metal paint cans and properly heat-sealed polymer bags with the slowest leak rate. Each container exhibited a different leak mechanism, which resulted in an observable effect on the composition of hydrocarbons lost from the container. Hydrocarbon transfer from one container to another is also demonstrated. This study presents results that reveal the most vapor-tight container to be a properly heat-sealed copolymer bag.
Journal of Forensic Sciences
"Performance testing of commercial containers for collection and storage of fire debris evidence" (2007). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 7785.