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Condom evidence: Characterisation, discrimination and classification of pyrolysis-GC-MS profiles

Abstract

Analysis of condom evidence commonly focusses on the detection of silicone-based lubricants, such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Although various instruments are used to analyse silicone lubricants, pyrolysis-gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (py-GC-MS) is one of the few instruments that presents immediate applicability to casework. However, considering that this technique detects silicone-based evidence, it is important to evaluate the discrimination potential of the method when applied to various samples. Examination of the variability within a large sample set from an international market is needed to evaluate the most distinguishing compounds likely to be detected in casework. In this study, 70 condoms, personal hygiene products, and lubricants, were analysed using py-GC-MS. Resulting pyrograms were characterised using published spectral databases. Pyrolysates data were extracted and evaluated using multivariate techniques. Qualitative visual inspection of the data, as well as statistical analysis, revealed at least five groups within the dataset. Discrimination was based on four main oligomers, as well as six minor compounds from siloxane degradation. Condom lubricants were found to present a very regular pattern, allowing for the majority of them to be differentiated from personal lubricants.

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