Human Scent Evidence: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Human Scent Evidence

1st Edition

By Paola A. Prada, Allison M. Curran, Kenneth G. Furton

CRC Press

228 pages | 20 Color Illus. | 55 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781466583955
pub: 2014-10-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429254659
pub: 2014-10-14
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During the last decade, a significant number of scientific studies have supported the use of human scent as a biometric tool and indicator of the presence, or absence, of an individual at a crime scene. These findings even extend to conducting scent identification line-ups with suspects. Human Scent Evidence focuses on some of these recent advances in the use of human scent as forensic evidence and as an identifier. Topics include:

  • Various theories of human odor production
  • The variability, stability, and persistence of human scent
  • Historical aspects of the use of human scent in police work in the United States and internationally
  • Current trends in scent collection techniques, including devices, materials, and storage protocols
  • Chemical aspects of the evaluation of human scent, including instrumental methods for odor detection and analysis
  • The legal significance of human scent evidence results
  • Canine scent work from multiple search categories as described in the Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthogonal detector Guidelines (SWGDOG)

Human scent evidence may be of critical use in many cases where other types of evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, or fibers are not readily available. As such, it can be a valuable tool in forensic investigations. With examples from North and South America and Europe, this book draws upon an extensive literature review of past and current research and is enhanced with findings from the authors’ own research. It concludes with a glimpse of the future direction of human scent evidence in the forensic field and its application as a biometric and diagnostic tool.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Historical Perspectives

Principle of Human Scent as Trace Evidence

Human Scent Discriminating Canines: The Line-Up History

Human Scent as a Forensic Tool: A Brief Historical Overview in Different Countries

Human Scent Evidence in the Courtroom

Production of Human Scent

Genetic Origin

Human Skin

Skin Microbiota

Human Axillary Odor

Chemical Composition of Human Scent: A Volatile Perspective

The Quest for Nonaxillary Skin Volatiles

At the Forefront of a Lab-Based Scent Discrimination Method

Variability of Human Scent

Scent Transfer

Factors Influencing Human Scent

Patterns of Scent Distribution

Collection of Human Scent as Forensic Evidence

Methods of Scent Collection

Laboratory Studies: Collection Materials

Police Work in Collecting Crime Scene Articles

Field Work in Scented Articles/Trailing

Field Work in Scent Line-Ups

Persistence and Stability of Human Scent

Scent Durability in the Field

Laboratory Perspectives on Scent Stability

Human Scent Canines

Article Search

Avalanche Search

Prescented Canines—Location Check

Nonspecific Human Scent Wilderness Area Search (Air Scent)

Prescented Canine—Aged Trail Search

Scent Identification Line-Ups

Searching for Live People in Disaster Environments

Tracking/Trailing People Based on Last Known Position

Human Remains Detection

Future Biometric and Diagnostic Applications

Scent as a Biomarker of Disease

Biometric Potential

Concluding Remarks

Appendix A: Argentina Human Scent Evidence Standard Operating Procedures

Appendix B: Finnish Regulations for Scent Identification

Appendix C: SWGDOG SC2—General Guidelines

Appendix D: SWGDOG SC8— Substance Detector Dogs

Appendix E: SWGDOG SC9— Human Scent Dogs


About the Authors

Paola A. Prada, Ph.D., is an intelligence community postdoctoral research fellow. Her studies encompass interdisciplinary areas such as chemistry, animal behavior, and national security to address issues that are critical to effective intelligence and defense capabilities. She has worked extensively on developing instrumental methods for human odor identification for criminal investigations. Dr. Prada has also worked with canine scent detection in the context of optimizing odor collection techniques for scent training.

Kenneth G. Furton, Ph.D.,is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida International University. His research has focused on the canine and instrumental detection of accelerants, biotoxins, currency, drugs, explosives, and humans (dead and alive). Dr. Furton’s expertise in forensic science has been sought by the legal system for which he has testified dozens of times as an expert witness in state and federal courts.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
SCIENCE / Chemistry / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Physical