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The Effect of Microbial Degradation on the Chromatographic Profiles of Tiki Torch Fuel, Lamp Oil, and Turpentine

Authors

  • Dee A. Turner B.S.,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, 402 North Blackford Street, LD 326, Indianapolis, IN 46202.
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  • John V. Goodpaster Ph.D.

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, 402 North Blackford Street, LD 326, Indianapolis, IN 46202.
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  • Presented in part at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 16–21, 2009, in Denver, CO.

  • Financial support provided by the IUPUI Research Support Funds Grant (2008–2009) and the National Science Foundation GK-12 Teaching Fellowship (2009–2010).

Additional information and reprint requests:
John V. Goodpaster, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
402 N. Blackford Street, LD 326
Indianapolis, IN 46202
E-mail: jvgoodpa@iupui.edu

Abstract

Abstract:  Biodegradation can result in selective removal of many of the compounds required for the identification of an ignitable liquid. In this study, the effects of microbial degradation on tiki torch fuel, lamp oil, and turpentine are reported. Samples of soil spiked with 20 μL of the liquids were stored at room temperature for up to 7 days. The ignitable liquids were then recovered using passive headspace concentration onto charcoal strips followed by solvent elution using pentane. Microbial degradation of tiki torch fuel resulted in the loss of the n-alkanes relative to the branched alkanes. Changes in the profile of the lamp oil were minor due to the highly branched nature of its alkanes. Microbial degradation of turpentine resulted in the selective loss of limonene and o-cymene. Overall, significant degradation by microbial action could result in the inability to identify the presence of an ignitable liquid or misclassify the ignitable liquid found.

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