Forensic decomposition odour profiling: A review of experimental designs and analytical techniques

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Journal Article
TrAC - Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 2017, 91 pp. 112 - 124
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The complex process of cadaveric decomposition releases diverse volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as by-products. These VOCs are significant in forensic science as the odour they comprise can be tracked by trained canines when searching for human remains in cases of missing persons, homicide, or mass disaster. Although this is an emerging area of research, numerous studies have been conducted to form a greater understanding of decomposition odour and its range of applications. While some of these studies are conducted in laboratories, most are conducted at specialised field sites (e.g., forensic, archaeological, taphonomic, search and rescue training facilities). This paper reviews these studies to provide a critical overview of the experimental approaches and analytical techniques used in decomposition odour analysis. Discussion covers the outcomes of these studies, their contribution to the field, and future directions, particularly the advances in analytical instrumentation currently being employed to provide a comprehensive decomposition odour profile.
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