The capability to collect timely information about the substances employed on-site at a crime scene is of fundamental importance during scientific investigations in crimes involving the use of explosives. TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene) is one of the most employed explosives in the 20th century. Despite the growing use of improvised explosives, criminal use and access to TNT is not expected to decrease. Immunoassays are simple and selective analytical tests able to detect molecules and their immunoreactions can occur in portable formats for use on-site. This work demonstrates the application of three immunochemical assays capable of detecting TNT to typical forensic samples from experimental tests: an indirect competitive ELISA with chemiluminescent detection (CL-ELISA), a colorimetric lateral flow immunoas- say (LFIA) based on colloidal gold nanoparticles label, and a chemiluminescent-LFIA (CL-LFIA). Under optimised working conditions, the LOD of the colorimetric LFIA and CL-LFIA were 1 mg mL1 and 0.05 mg mL1, respectively. The total analysis time for LFIAs was 15 min. ELISA proved to be a very effective laboratory approach, showing very good sensitivity (LOD of 0.4 ng mL1) and good reproducibility (CV value about 7%). Samples tested included various materials involved in controlled explosions of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as hand swabs collected after TNT handling tests. In the first group of tests, targets covered with six different materials (metal, plastic, cardboard, carpet fabric, wood and adhesive tape) were fixed on top of wooden poles (180 cm high). Samples of soil from the explosion area and different materials covering the targets were collected after each explosion and analysed. In the second group of tests, hand swabs were collected with and without hand washing after volunteers simulated the manipulation of small charges of TNT. The small amount of solution required for each assay allows for several analyses. Results of immunoassays confirmed that they were suitable to detect post-blast residues in soil and target materials and post transfer residues on hands, allowing further confirmation by more selective techniques. ELISA and LFIAs results obtained from the same solution were consistently in good agreement, and were confirmed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The reported immunoassays data demonstrates the suitability of LFIAs as on-site rapid and effective assays to detect TNT traces. The CL-ELISA proved useful in obtaining very sensitive detection in forensic investigations and testing, while CL-LFIA had performances in between LFIA and CL-ELISA.

Field detection capability of immunochemical assays during criminal investigations involving the use of TNT

FERRI, ELIDA NORA;MIRASOLI, MARA;D'Elia, Marcello;GIROTTI, STEFANO
2015

Abstract

The capability to collect timely information about the substances employed on-site at a crime scene is of fundamental importance during scientific investigations in crimes involving the use of explosives. TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene) is one of the most employed explosives in the 20th century. Despite the growing use of improvised explosives, criminal use and access to TNT is not expected to decrease. Immunoassays are simple and selective analytical tests able to detect molecules and their immunoreactions can occur in portable formats for use on-site. This work demonstrates the application of three immunochemical assays capable of detecting TNT to typical forensic samples from experimental tests: an indirect competitive ELISA with chemiluminescent detection (CL-ELISA), a colorimetric lateral flow immunoas- say (LFIA) based on colloidal gold nanoparticles label, and a chemiluminescent-LFIA (CL-LFIA). Under optimised working conditions, the LOD of the colorimetric LFIA and CL-LFIA were 1 mg mL1 and 0.05 mg mL1, respectively. The total analysis time for LFIAs was 15 min. ELISA proved to be a very effective laboratory approach, showing very good sensitivity (LOD of 0.4 ng mL1) and good reproducibility (CV value about 7%). Samples tested included various materials involved in controlled explosions of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as hand swabs collected after TNT handling tests. In the first group of tests, targets covered with six different materials (metal, plastic, cardboard, carpet fabric, wood and adhesive tape) were fixed on top of wooden poles (180 cm high). Samples of soil from the explosion area and different materials covering the targets were collected after each explosion and analysed. In the second group of tests, hand swabs were collected with and without hand washing after volunteers simulated the manipulation of small charges of TNT. The small amount of solution required for each assay allows for several analyses. Results of immunoassays confirmed that they were suitable to detect post-blast residues in soil and target materials and post transfer residues on hands, allowing further confirmation by more selective techniques. ELISA and LFIAs results obtained from the same solution were consistently in good agreement, and were confirmed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The reported immunoassays data demonstrates the suitability of LFIAs as on-site rapid and effective assays to detect TNT traces. The CL-ELISA proved useful in obtaining very sensitive detection in forensic investigations and testing, while CL-LFIA had performances in between LFIA and CL-ELISA.
Romolo, Francesco Saverio; Ferri, Elida; Mirasoli, Mara; D'Elia, Marcello; Ripani, Luigi; Peluso, Giuseppe; Risoluti, Roberta; Maiolini, Elisabetta; Girotti, Stefano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/532990
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