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Analysis of arson fire debris by low temperature dynamic headspace adsorption porous layer open tubular columns



Thomas J. Bruno, Tara Lovestead, Jessica Nichols, Megan E. Harries


In this paper we present results of the application of PLOT-cryoadsorption (PLOT-cryo) to the analysis of ignitable liquids in fire debris. We tested ignitable liquids, broadly divided into fuels and solvents (although the majority of the results presented here were obtained with gasoline and diesel fuel on three substrates: Douglas fir, oak plywood and Nylon carpet. We determined that PLOT-cryo allows the analyst to distinguish all of the ignitable liquids from a very rapid sampling protocol, and performs better than a conventional purge and trap method. We also tested the effect of latency (the time between applying thge ignitable liquid and ignition), we tested a variety of sampling times and a variety of PLOT capillary lengths. Reliable results can be obtained with sampling times as short as 3 min, and on PLOT capillaries as short as 20 cm. The variability of separate samples was also assessed, a study made possible by the high throughput nature of the PLOT-cryo method. We also determined that the method performs better than the conventional carbon strip method that is commonly used in fire debris analysis.
Journal of Chromatography A


Fire debris analysis, Gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, headspace analysis, ignitable liquid, PLOT-cryoadsorption


Bruno, T. , Lovestead, T. , Nichols, J. and Harries, M. (2014), Analysis of arson fire debris by low temperature dynamic headspace adsorption porous layer open tubular columns, Journal of Chromatography A, [online],, (Accessed September 22, 2021)
Created February 6, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018