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Determining the Lifetime of Detectable Amounts of Gunshot Residue on the Hands of a Shooter Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

Volume 62, Number 11 (Nov. 2008) Page 1238-1241

Rosenberg, Matthew B.; Dockery, Christopher R.

Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) has been used to determine the period of time that a shooter will test positive for gunshot residue (GSR) after firing a revolver. Multiple rounds of primer were fired and samples collected at multiple hour intervals using an adhesive tape pressed against the skin. Samples were analyzed directly using a commercially available laser-induced breakdown spectrometer where barium emission (originating from barium nitrate in the primer) was observed. Population statistics were used to compare suspected GSR to a library of blank samples from which a threshold value was established. Statistically significant results, positive for GSR, are obtained 5.27 days after a firearm discharge using these techniques.