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Analyst. 2004 Dec;129(12):1206-10. Epub 2004 Oct 11.

Forensic isotope ratio mass spectrometry of packaging tapes.

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Mass Spec Analytical Ltd., Building 20F, Golf Course Lane, PO Box 77, Filton, Bristol, UK.


Pressure sensitive adhesive tape (brown parcel tape) is employed in a great many criminal activities such as the restraint of individuals during robbery and offences against the person, the enclosure of explosive devices and the packaging and concealment of controlled drugs. Packaging materials are ubiquitous in modern society and are produced in such vast quantities that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between different products or to link materials to a common source. This study demonstrates the potential of stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry to characterise parcel tapes based on a number of properties. The carbon isotopic signature, derived from the substrate polymer, associated additives and adhesive is highly characteristic of a particular tape and allows samples from different sources to be readily distinguished. Further discrimination may be achieved by the incorporation of deuterium and oxygen isotopic data and by analysis of the isolated backing polymer. Recovery of intact tape from simulated forensic samples proved straightforward and the isotopic signature of the tape did not appear to be affected by adverse storage conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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