Environmental forensic investigations: The potential use of a novel heavy metal sensor and novel taggants

Pat Pollard*, Morgan Adams, Peter K J Robertson, Konstantinos Christidis, Simon Officer, Gopala R. Prabhu, Kenneth Gow, Andrew R. Morrisson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter presents a novel hand-held instrument capable of real-time in situ detection and identification of heavy metals, along with the potential use of novel taggants in environmental forensic investigations. The proposed system provides the facilities found in a traditional laboratory-based instrument but in a hand held design, without the need for an associated computer. The electrochemical instrument uses anodic stripping voltammetry, which is a precise and sensitive analytical method with excellent limits of detection. The sensors comprise a small disposable plastic strip of screen-printed electrodes rather than the more common glassy carbon disc and gold electrodes. The system is designed for use by a surveyor on site, allowing them to locate hotspots, thus avoiding the expense and time delay of prior laboratory analysis. This is particularly important in environmental forensic analysis when a site may have been released back to the owner and samples could be compromised on return visits. The system can be used in a variety of situations in environmental assessments, the data acquired from which provide a metals fingerprint suitable for input to a database. The proposed novel taggant tracers, based on narrow-band atomic fluorescence, are under development for potential deployment as forensic environmental tracers. The use of discrete fluorescent species in an environmentally stable host has been investigated to replace existing toxic, broadband molecular dye tracers. The narrow band emission signals offer the potential for tracing a large number of signals in the same environment. This will give increased data accuracy and allow multiple source environmental monitoring of environmental parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminal and Environmental Soil Forensics
EditorsKarl Ritz, Lorna Dawson, David Miller
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781402092046
ISBN (Print)9781402092039
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental forensic investigations: The potential use of a novel heavy metal sensor and novel taggants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this