Development of a dynamic headspace concentration technique for the non-contact sampling of human odor samples and the creation of canine training aids
Human scent and human remains detection canines are used to locate living or deceased humans under many circumstances. Human scent canines locate individual humans on the basis of their unique scent profile, while human remains detection canines locate the general scent of decomposing human remains.
Scent evidence is often collected by law enforcement agencies using a Scent Transfer Unit, a dynamic headspace concentration device. The goals of this research were to evaluate the STU-100 for the collection of human scent samples, and to apply this method to the collection of living and deceased human samples, and to the creation of canine training aids.
The airflow rate and collection material used with the STU-100 were evaluated using a novel scent delivery method. Controlled Odor Mimic Permeation Systems were created containing representative standard compounds delivered at known rates, improving the reproducibility of optimization experiments.
Flow rates and collection materials were compared. Higher air flow rates usually yielded significantly less total volatile compounds due to compound breakthrough through the collection material. Collection from polymer and cellulose-based materials demonstrated that the molecular backbone of the material is a factor in the trapping and releasing of compounds. The weave of the material also affects compound collection, as those materials with a tighter weave demonstrated enhanced collection efficiencies.
Using the optimized method, volatiles were efficiently collected from living and deceased humans. Replicates of the living human samples showed good reproducibility; however, the odor profiles from individuals were not always distinguishable from one another. Analysis of the human remains samples revealed similarity in the type and ratio of compounds.
Two types of prototype training aids were developed utilizing combinations of pure compounds as well as volatiles from actual human samples concentrated onto sorbents, which were subsequently used in field tests. The pseudo scent aids had moderate success in field tests, and the Odor pad aids had significant success. This research demonstrates that the STU-100 is a valuable tool for dog handlers and as a field instrument; however, modifications are warranted in order to improve its performance as a method for instrumental detection.