Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

What follows in this article teaches us what causes odor and scent to remain after the source has left or has been removed. It is chemical in nature, and therefore just knowing what happens is likely all you need. I included the whole article as there some other interesting facts. The reason for this article was a recent court case where the judge wanted to know how a narcotic odor could remain after the product was removed. 

Advances in the use of odor as forensic evidence through optimizing and standardizing instruments and canines

This paper explores the advances made in identifying trace amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that originate from forensic specimens, such as drugs, explosives, live human scent, and the scent of death, as well as the probative value for detecting such odors. The ability to locate and identify the VOCs liberated from or left by forensic substances is of increasing importance to criminal investigations as it can indicate the presence of contraband and/or associate an individual to a particular location or object. Although instruments have improved significantly in recent decades—with sensitivities now rivaling that of biological detectors—it is widely recognized that canines are generally still more superior for the detection of odorants due to their speed, versatility, ruggedness and discriminating power. Through advancements in the detection of VOCs, as well as increased standardization efforts for instruments and canines, the reliability of odor as evidence has continuously improved and is likely to continue to do so. Moreover, several legal cases in which this novel form of evidence has been accepted into US courts of law are discussed. As the development and implementation of best practice guidelines for canines and instruments increase, their reliability in detecting VOCs of interest should continue to improve, expanding the use of odor as an acceptable form of forensic evidence. Read More

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