The development and comparison of collection techniques for inorganic and organic gunshot residues

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Journal Article
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2016, 408 (10), pp. 2567 - 2576
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016. The detection and interpretation of gunshot residues (GSR) plays an important role in the investigation of firearm-related events. Commonly, the analysis focuses on inorganic particles incorporating elements derived from the primer. However, recent changes in ammunition formulations and possibility that particles from non-firearm sources can be indistinguishable from certain primer particles challenge the standard operational protocol and call for adjustments, namely the combination of inorganic and organic GSR analysis. Two protocols for the combined collection and subsequent analysis of inorganic and organic GSR were developed and optimised for 15 compounds potentially present in organic GSR (OGSR). These protocols were conceptualised to enable OGSR analysis by ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) coupled with UV detection and triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (confirmation) and IGSR analysis by scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX). Using liquid extraction, the extraction recoveries from spiked swabs and stubs were ∼80 % (50-98 % for swabs, 64-98 % for stubs). When the mixed OGSR standard was applied to the hands and recovered in the way that is usual for IGSR collection, GSR stubs performed significantly better than swabs (~30 %) for the collection of OGSR. The optimised protocols were tested and compared for combined OGSR and inorganic GSR analysis using samples taken at a shooting range. The most suitable protocol for combined collection and analysis of IGSR and OGSR involved collection using GSR stubs followed by SEM-EDX analysis and liquid extraction using acetone followed by analysis with UHPLC.
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