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Stable isotope analysis of white paints and likelihood ratios

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date06/2009
JournalScience and Justice
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


Architectural paints are commonly found as trace evidence at scenes of crime. Currently the most widely used technique for the analysis of architectural paints is Fourier Transformed Infra-Red Spectroscopy (FTIR). There are, however, limitations to the forensic analysis of white paints, and the ability to discriminate between samples.

Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) has been investigated as a potential tool for the analysis of architectural white paints, where no preparation of samples prior to analysis is required. When stable isotope profiles (SIPs) are compared, there appears to be no relationship between paints from the same manufacturer, or between paints of the same type. Unlike existing techniques, IRMS does not differentiate resin samples solely on the basis of modifier or oil-type, but exploits additional factors linked to samples such as geo-location where oils added to alkyd formulations were grown. In combination with the use of likelihood ratios, IRMS shows potential, with a false positive rate of 2.6% from a total of 1275 comparisons.