Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Shows Explosives Remain Part Of Human Hair

Date:
April 6, 2004
Source:
University Of Rhode Island
Summary:
The comb, that simple device millions of people pass through their hair every day, could become the latest tool in the battle against terrorism.

KINGSTON, R.I -- March 17, 2004 -- The comb, that simple device millions of people pass through their hair every day, could become the latest tool in the battle against terrorism.

That’s because a group of University of Rhode Island researchers has found that chemicals used to make bombs remain in the hair of explosives handlers long after repeated washings.

The lead researcher, Professor of Chemistry Jimmie Oxley, one of the co-directors of URI's Forensic Science Partnership, has also found that when the research team members attached ordinary gauze to combs, they had effective collection devices.

"We are very excited about what we found, because I didn’t know what to expect to find in terms of persistence," Oxley said.

"We’re at the very early stages of developing a practical field technique to link the perpetrator to a crime," the chemist said. "(Oklahoma City bomber Timothy) McVeigh had (the explosive) PETN on his shirt. If someone like him changes his shirt, we could still test his hair."

The team's early findings are the result of a two-year, $320,000 grant awarded by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. Located in Oklahoma City. The institute was incorporated Sept. 23, 1999, and grew out of the desire of the survivors and families to have a living memorial of the Murrah Federal Building bombing of April 19, 1995.

Oxley, who titled the study "A New Source of Evidence: Explosive Traces in Hair," said she pursued the research because hair readily absorbs odors, such as those from cigarette smoke, it is being used for evidence of drug use and because it is washed less frequently than hands and clothes.

She wanted to know if all explosives are absorbed equally well, if hair color and type affect adsorption, and whether the explosive, with time and washing, remains persistent. Ultimately, she hopes to establish a protocol that can be established for law enforcement use. Adsorption is the surface assimilation of a gas, vapor or dissolve matter.

"We wanted to know if we could get the same chemicals out that we put in," said URI Chemistry Professor Louis Kirschenbuam.

The research is being conducted in two phases at both URI and in the United Kingdom, where subjects have been preparing dog-training aids. In the first phase at URI, cut hair was exposed to explosive vapors to see which ones were adsorbed. The persistence of adsorption was studied for washed and unwashed hair. In the U.K, researchers combed subjects’ hair before and after explosive handling. Then, subjects' hair was re-sampled after a time interval and shampooing. Phase 2 of the work being done at URI will study the significance of hair pigment, sex, and race, while Phase 2 in Great Britain will develop law enforcement protocols for recovery of explosive residues in hair.

Oxley's team has been examining absorption of common military explosives, such as TNT, PETN and RDX, as well TATP, the suicide bombers' explosive. RDX is the main component of C-4, while PETN is used in detonation cords, sheet explosives and plasticized explosives.

In the TNT-tainted hair exposed to air at URI for six days, only small decreases in TNT levels were detected. Hair tainted with TNT and PETN that was washed three times and rinsed still retained small levels of the explosive.

"Finding the chemicals after washing, that’s what might turn out to be important," Kirschenbaum said. "I think it’s safe to say that volatile chemicals can migrate into the hair. Once it’s on there, it's truly stuck."

In addition to Oxley and Kirschenbaum, team members are URI Chemistry Professor James Smith and chemistry graduate students Kajal Shinde and Kishore Marimganti.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rhode Island. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Rhode Island. "Research Shows Explosives Remain Part Of Human Hair." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040406083933.htm>.
University Of Rhode Island. (2004, April 6). Research Shows Explosives Remain Part Of Human Hair. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040406083933.htm
University Of Rhode Island. "Research Shows Explosives Remain Part Of Human Hair." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040406083933.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins