1st Edition

Environmental Forensics Fundamentals A Practical Guide

By Ioana Gloria Petrisor Copyright 2014
    445 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    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.

    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



    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