1st Edition

Environmental Forensics Fundamentals
A Practical Guide

ISBN 9781466571587
Published July 14, 2014 by CRC Press
445 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations

USD $180.00

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Book Description

A Practical Guide to Environmental Crime Scene Investigations

Releasing contaminants into the environment—whether deliberate or unintentional—can be thought of as a crime against the environment. The role of environmental forensics is to identify and prevent environmental pollution, or crimes. Environmental Forensics Fundamentals: A Practical Guide examines this growing field, and provides environmental professionals looking to specialize in environmental forensics with the materials they need to effectively investigate and solve crimes against the environment.

Pointing the Finger at Environmental Crime

Environmental forensics uses "fingerprinting" techniques in order to assess and analyze contamination sites. Fingerprinting can reveal the source of contamination, as well as how, where, and when the contamination was released. This handy guidebook outlines the proven techniques, applications, and resources needed to efficiently investigate environmental crimes and become successful in this emerging field.

Learn the Basics from a Single Source

Divided into three main parts, the first part of the book examines the role of evidence in forensic investigations and court proceedings. It highlights general forensic concepts and offers guidelines for obtaining defensible evidence. The second part details environmental forensic investigative techniques. It includes a step-by-step guide that enables the reader to apply the techniques in practice. The final section covers strategy building. It presents real case studies, as well as key principles and concepts for strategy building, and addresses the most common challenges faced in environmental forensics.

Environmental Forensics Fundamentals: A Practical Guide provides information on cutting-edge scientific techniques that investigate the source and age of environmental pollution and solve environmental crimes. It examines the principles behind each main forensic technique. It also offers guidance on what to look for in order to successfully apply the techniques and interpret results. In addition, the author provides relevant sources where more information can be found.

Table of Contents

Section I Evidence

Environmental Forensic Evidence

"Traces" Provide Evidence

Environmental Forensic Evidence

"Ideal" Evidence in Environmental Forensics

Obtaining Defensible Evidence

Principles and Hints for Obtaining Defensible Evidence

Basic Recommendations for Further Reading

Section II Techniques

Nontesting Techniques: The First Forensic Tools

Historical Document Review

Photographic Review

Market Forensics


Fingerprinting Techniques Targeting the Contaminants and/or Associated Compounds

Chemical Fingerprinting Techniques

Isotopic Fingerprinting


Fingerprinting Techniques Targeting the Contaminants within the Environmental Matrix

Basic Principles

Geochemical Fingerprinting

Mineralogical Fingerprinting

Statistical Evaluation, Contaminant Modeling, and Data



Fingerprinting Techniques Targeting Traces Left by Contaminants in the Environment

Basic Principles

Atmospheric Tracers

DNA Fingerprinting

Tree-Ring Fingerprinting (Dendroecology)


Section III Challenges and Solutions

Finding the "Needle in the Haystack"

Strategic Guide

Case Study 7.1: Forensic Evaluation of Metal Background

Concentrations at a Historical Foundry Site in France

Case Study 7.2: Forensic Evaluation of Metal Sources in Soils from Agricultural Parcels in the Vicinity of a Historical Foundry Site in France

When Site Mitigation Leaves Pollution Behind

Strategic Guide

Case Study 8.1: Source Identification of Petroleum

Hydrocarbons Discovered after Soil Remediation at a

Redeveloped Site in France

Neighboring Industrial Sites with Complex Releases of Similar


Strategic Guide

Case Study 9.1: Forensic Investigation at Two Neighboring

Industrial Sites with Similar Past Operations in Southern


Environmental "Poisoning" Story

Strategic Guide

Case Study 10.1: Was a Resident "Poisoning" the Property of a Neighbor?

Residential Pool Disputes

Strategic Guide

Case Study 11.1: Tracking a Culprit Pool for Water

Infiltration at a Residence Surrounded by Pools

When All Is Uncertain or Unknown

Strategic Guide

Case Study 12.1: How Tree-Ring

Fingerprinting Unravels the Unknown

Forensic Investigation Leading to Scientific Discoveries

Strategic Guide: When Forensics Investigations Open New Opportunities

Case Study 13.1: Discovery of a New Form of Naturally

Occurring Perchlorate in Southern California

When Nothing Else Works

Strategic Guide

Case Study 14.1: Age-Dating of Petroleum Releases at a Historical Gas Station in the Northeastern United States


Epilogue: What Does the Future Hold?


SI and US Units of Measure Conversion Chart


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Dr. Ioana G. Petrisor is a biochemist specializing in environmental forensics and litigation support. As an instructor with the AEHS (Association for Environmental Health and Sciences) Foundation and EOS (Environmental, Outreach, and Stewardship) Alliance, she teaches both online and in-class environmental forensic courses. Dr. Petrisor has a PhD in biochemistry (environmental biotechnology) from the Romanian Academy of Sciences and a bachelor’s in chemistry (biochemistry major) from Bucharest University, Romania. She is editor-in-chief of the Environmental Forensics Journal, and has extensive publication experience, including an invention patent, six book chapters, over 70 research and review articles, 12 editorials, and three technical guidelines.


"This book cites Agatha Christie and it defines evidence as the traces left by the commission of a crime. It explains what evidence convinces juries and how to refute the allegation that your client caused the contamination. This book does not present a framework or logical approach for environmental forensics. Rather, it presents a section of techniques and then a section of successful cases in anonymized and somewhat abstracted form. … The cases were, for me, the most intriguing part of the book. The case-based approach to pedagogy is not new, but I thought that Petrisor’s use of that approach was particularly effective."
—Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 2015

"…provides information on cutting-edge scientific techniques that investigate the source and age of environmental pollution and solve environmental crimes. …an easy-to-follow and well-organised guide for anyone interested in learning environmental forensics or simply becoming informed on what forensics means when applied to the environment."
—International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, December 2014