Accumulation of Explosives in Hair-Part 3: Binding Site Study

Jimmie C. Oxley, James L. Smith, Louis J. Kirschenbaum, Suvarna Marimiganti, Irena Efremenko, Raya Zach, Yehuda Zeiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study extends previous work on the sorption of explosives to the hair matrix. Specifically, we have studied the interaction of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and triacetone triperoxide (TATP) as a function of chemical pretreatment with acetonitrile, neutral and alkaline hydrogen peroxide, methanolic KOH and potassium permanganate, and the morphological changes that accompany these treatments. While differences in vapor pressure can account for quantitative differences between TNT and TATP sorption, both are markedly affected by the chemical rinses. Examination of the hair surface shows different degrees of smoothening following rinsing, suggesting that the attachment to hair is largely a surface phenomenon involving the 18-methyleicosanoic acid lipid layer. Density functional theory calculations were employed to explore possible nucleation sites of TATP microcrystals on the hair. We conclude that some of the sites on melanin granular surfaces may support nucleation of TATP microcrystals. Moreover, the calculations support the experimental finding that dark hair adsorbs explosives better than light hair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-635
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2012


  • 2
  • 4
  • 6-trinitrotoluene
  • Explosives sorption
  • Forensic science
  • Hair
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Tapping mode atomic force microscopy
  • Triacetone triperoxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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