Chemistry and Physics Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Analysis of hand odor utilizing various extraction techniques to provide a comprehensive assessment of volatile components

Event Name/Location

The Pittsburg Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy / Atlanta, GA

Document Type


Publication Date



Biological Samples, Extraction, Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, Volatile Organic Compounds


The individualizing properties possessed by human odor have been explored for its use as a biometric tool. Every individual emanates a distinct odor due to the secretions expelled from an assortment of glands throughout the body and microbial activity of these secretions. One source of human odor that has received much attention is hand odor due to the wide range of objects hands come in contact with. In forensic science, human scent has been used as a form of corroborative evidence to link a suspect to a particular crime or crime scene; furthermore, the greatest amount of human scent evidence collected is evidence that has been in contact with the hands of a suspect or victim. This work provides a comprehensive evaluation of the volatile components present in hand odor samples of three individuals. Previous studies have demonstrated the distinguishing capabilities of human odor volatiles studied by headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME). HS-SPME served as the primary method of extraction for volatiles from hand odor collected onto cotton gauze pads; however, the utilization of headspace SPME as an extraction technique may provide only a segment of the entire composition of hand odor and therefore there is a necessity to exploit alternative extraction techniques so that a more comprehensive presentation of hand odor can be determined. Activated charcoal and direct immersion SPME extraction were employed in this study to provide a comprehensive assessment of constituents present in hand odor. Following volatile extraction, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was utilized for volatile identification.

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