Get access
Advertisement

Stable Isotope Analysis of Human Hair and Nail Samples: The Effects of Storage on Samples

Authors

  • Isla Fraser B.Sc.,

    1. Environmental Forensics and Human Health, Environmental Engineering Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5AG, United Kingdom.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Wolfram Meier-Augenstein Ph.D.,

    1. Environmental Forensics and Human Health, Environmental Engineering Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5AG, United Kingdom.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Robert M. Kalin Ph.D.

    1. Environmental Forensics and Human Health, Environmental Engineering Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5AG, United Kingdom.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Preliminary data from this study have been presented in the form of a poster at the 2005 Forensic Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry network (FIRMS), Brands Hatch, United Kingdom.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Isla Fraser, B.Sc.
Environmental Forensics and Human Health
Environmental Engineering Research Centre
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast BT9 5AG
United Kingdom
E-mail: i.fraser@qub.ac.uk

Abstract

Abstract:  When submitting samples for analysis, maintaining sample integrity is essential. Appropriate packaging must be used to prevent damage, contamination or loss of sample. This is particularly important for stable isotope analysis by isotope ratio mass spectrometry as this technique is capable of detecting subtle differences in isotopic composition with great precision. In a novel study, scalp hair and fingernail samples were placed in five different types of packaging, routinely used in forensic laboratories and stored for 6 weeks and 6 months. Samples were subsequently cleaned and submitted for 13C/12C, 15N/14N, 2H/1H and 18O/16O analysis. Results from 13C analysis indicate that type of packaging can cause slight changes in 13C abundance over time. Differences were noted in the 15N isotope signatures of both hair and nail samples after 6-week storage, but not after 6 months. This apparent discrepancy could be a result of the packaging not being properly sealed in the 6 weeks study. Fewer differences were noted when analyzing samples for 2H and 18O abundance.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary