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On the use of IRMS in forensic science: proposals for a methodological approach
Forensic Science International
The flourishing number of publications on the use of isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) in forensicscience denotes the enthusiasm and the attraction generated by this technology. IRMS has demonstratedits potential to distinguish chemically identical compounds coming from different sources. Despite thenumerous applications of IRMS to a wide range of forensic materials, its implementation in a forensicframework is less straightforward than it appears. In addition, each laboratory has developed its ownstrategy of analysis on calibration, sequence design, standards utilisation and data treatment without aclear consensus.Through the experience acquired from research undertaken in different forensic fields, we propose amethodological framework of the whole process using IRMS methods. We emphasize the importance ofconsidering isotopic results as part of a whole approach, when applying this technology to a particularforensic issue. The process is divided into six different steps, which should be considered for a thoughtfuland relevant application. The dissection of this process into fundamental steps, further detailed, enablesa better understanding of the essential, though not exhaustive, factors that have to be considered in orderto obtain results of quality and sufficiently robust to proceed to retrospective analyses or interlaboratorycomparisons.
isotope ratio mass spectrometry, IRMS, forensic application, stable isotope, methodological framework, process, methodology, source inference, illicit drugs, ignitable liquid, explosive
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