The Survival of Gunshot Residues in Cremated Bone: An Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry Study

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Gunshot residue (GSR) has been sought and demonstrated on many types of material and with many techniques. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) could be a useful method on difficult substrates, but a systematic study on burnt material has never been performed. Hence, this study aims at evaluating the usefulness and reliability of this method on burnt samples. Sixteen adult bovine ribs (eight with soft tissues, eight totally skeletonized) were shot using two kinds of projectile (both 9 mm full metal-jacketed or unjacketed). Then, every sample was led to complete calcination in an electric oven. The area of the gunshot entrance wound was swabbed and analyzed by ICP-OES; the results were also correlated with a previously published parallel study by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) equipped with an SEM–energy dispersive X-ray analyzer. ICP-OES proved to be very sensitive and reliable even on degraded material and can be an appropriate nondestructive method for detecting residues on difficult and delicate substrates such as burnt bone.

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