Surface-sampling and analysis of TATP by swabbing and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

Research Area: Uncategorized Year: 2013
Type of Publication: Article
Number: 1-3 Pages: 96-100
Month: JAN 10
ISSN: 0379-0738
The method of sample recovery for trace detection and identification of explosives plays a critical role in several criminal investigations. After bombing, there can be difficulties in sending big objects to a laboratory for analysis. Traces can also be searched for on large surfaces, on hands of suspects or on surfaces where the explosive was placed during preparatory phases (e.g. places where an IED was assembled, vehicles used for transportation, etc.). In this work, triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was synthesized from commercial precursors following reported methods. Several portions of about 6 mg of TATP were then spread on different surfaces (e.g. floors, tables, etc.) or used in handling tests. Three different swabbing systems were used: a commercial swab, pre-wetted with propan-2-ol (isopropanol) and water (7:3), dry paper swabs, and cotton swabs wetted with propan-2-ol. Paper and commercial swabs were also used to sample a metal plate, where a small charge of about 4 g of TATP was detonated. Swabs were sealed in small glass jars with screw caps and Parafilm (R) M and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Swabs were extracted and analysed several weeks later by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. All the three systems gave positive results, but wetted swabs collected higher amounts of TATP. The developed procedure showed its suitability for use in real cases, allowing TATP detection in several simulations, including a situation in which people wash their hands after handling the explosive. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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