Dogs Can Detect One-Billionth of a Teaspoon of Gasoline
by Douglas Ankney
According to a recent study from the University of Alberta, trained dogs can detect gasoline in trace amounts as small as one-billionth of a teaspoon (or 5 pico-liters). “During an arson investigation, a dog may be used to identify debris that contains traces of ignitable liquids — which could support a hypothesis that a fire was the result of arson,” explained Robin J. Abel, graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and lead author of the study. “Of course, a dog cannot give testimony in court, so debris from where the dog indicated must be taken back to the laboratory and analyzed.”
But there is a glitch. The trace amounts of gasoline detected by the dogs cannot be confirmed with laboratory analysis. “In this field, it is well-known that dogs are more sensitive than conventional laboratory tests,” said James Harynuk, an associate professor of chemistry and Abel’s supervisor. “There have been many cases where a dog will flag debris that then tests negative in the lab.”
To solve the problem, scientists first needed to know the limits of canine sensitivity. According to a paper titled “A novel protocol for producing low-abundance targets to characterize the sensitivity limits of ignitable liquid detection canines” — published by Abel, Harynuk, and Jeffrey L. Lunder in Forensic Chemistry — the dogs provided no indication at levels of 3 pico-liters or below. Based on the findings of the study, scientists are now attempting to develop a test that will detect gasoline in quantities as minute as that detected by the dogs.
More from this issue:
- Police State: From Social Justice to Social Dominance, by Michael Fortino, Ph.D
- Sixth Circuit Vacates Firearms Possession Conviction; Government Showed Jury Unauthenticated Prejudicial Facebook Video Not Admitted as Evidence, by Matthew Clarke
- Tenth Circuit: Deputy ‘Trying to Help’ Doesn’t Make Search Permissible Under Community Caretaking Exception to Warrant Requirement, by Douglas Ankney
- Attacking the Guilty Plea: Establishing Prejudice in the Guilty Plea Context, by Dale Chappell
- Report Finds NYPD Officers Accidentally Deploy Tasers 25% of the Time, by Douglas Ankney
- California Supreme Court: § 459.5(b) Prohibits Charging Shoplifting and Theft for Same Property, by Douglas Ankney
- Fourth Circuit: IAC for Counsel’s Bad Advice That Open Plea Would Allow Appeal Denial of Motion to Suppress, by Dale Chappell
- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: GPS Monitoring Unreasonable When It Doesn’t Further Any Governmental Interest, by Douglas Ankney
- D.C. Circuit Reverses Nearly 50-Year-Old Murder Conviction Over Faulty Hair Evidence, by Dale Chappell
- Minnesota Supreme Court: Non-Identifying Information About CI Must Be Disclosed Upon Request, by Anthony Accurso
- Michigan Supreme Court Announces Court Must Inform Defendant of Consecutive Sentencing Authority When Accepting Plea, by David Reutter
- Massachusetts Supreme Court: Officer’s Handling of Cellphone Exceeded Scope of Inventory Search, by Anthony Accurso
- Seventh Circuit Reverses Denial of Motion to Suppress Because Police Lacked Reasonable Suspicion to Frisk, by Douglas Ankney
- FOIA Redaction Limbo: How Low They Will Go, by Edward Lyon
- U.S. District Court Chooses Judicial Remedy, Instead of § 2255, to Allow Out-of-Time Appeal, by Dale Chappell
- California Court of Appeal: Trial Court Abused Discretion Denying Compassionate Release Where Statutory Criteria Are Met, by Dale Chappell
- Colorado Supreme Court: Warrant Allowing General Search of Cellphone Unconstitutional Violation of Particularity Requirement, by Douglas Ankney
- Eleventh Circuit Holds Georgia Terroristic Threats Conviction Overbroad for ACCA, by Dale Chappell
- Policing is irrelevant for public safety — but these alternatives are proven to work, by Justin Podur/Independent Media Institute, AlterNet.com
- Myth of Technology as an Equalizing Force in Criminal Justice, by Anthony Accurso
- Kansas Supreme Court: District Court Failed to Apprise Defendant of Right to Jury Trial, by Douglas Ankney
- Fourth Circuit Requests Further Information on Stingray Device to Determine Whether It Violates Fourth Amendment Rights, by Anthony Accurso
- Oklahoma Enacts Jailhouse Informant Law, Joins Other States, by Dale Chappell
- South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Murder Conviction Where State Presented Improper Testimony Regarding Trace DNA Evidence, by Douglas Ankney
- Iowa Supreme Court Announces That ‘Good Cause’ in Newly Amended Appeals Statute Means ‘a Legally Sufficient Reason’, by Douglas Ankney
- South Carolina Supreme Court: State Cannot Appeal Guilty Plea, by David Reutter
- Two New Forensic DNA Standards Added to the OSAC Registry
- Big Brother, as Well as Big Business, Are Tracking You: the Snitch in Your Own Pocket, Purse, or Belt Holder, by Edward Lyon
- Neuroscience and Criminal Cases, by Jayson Hawkins
- Maine Supreme Judicial Court Vacates Conviction on Double Jeopardy Grounds, by Douglas Ankney
- Eighth Circuit Affirms Habeas Relief Decades After Conviction Because Prosecutor Destroyed Evidence Prior to Trial, by Dale Chappell
- Eleventh Circuit Vacates Firearm Conviction Based on Rehaif, by Douglas Ankney
- Washington Supreme Court: Defendant Detained for Search at Border Was ‘In Custody’ for Miranda Purposes, by Douglas Ankney
- Never Convicted but Never Exonerated, Either, by Edward Lyon
- Fourth Circuit: Erroneous Career Offender Sentence Correctable in First Step Act Resentencing, by Dale Chappell
- Government Study Finds Facial Recognition Sorely Lacking in Accuracy, by Dale Chappell
- Idaho Exoneree Fights for Wrongful Conviction Compensation, by Edward Lyon
- Fifth Circuit Clarifies AEDPA Time Limit Tolling for Louisiana Prisoners Filing Federal Habeas Corpus, by Dale Chappell
- Missouri Shows Indifference to Human Life by Proceeding with Execution Amid Pandemic, by Douglas Ankney
- Dogs Can Detect One-Billionth of a Teaspoon of Gasoline, by Douglas Ankney
- Fulton County Prosecutor in Georgia to Expunge MLK and Other Civil Rights Leaders’ Records, But not Everyone Agrees, by Michael Fortino, Ph.D
- Survey: California Cops Abusing Privacy Rights with Auto Plate Readers, by Jayson Hawkins
- FBI Provides Fitness App in Exchange for Users’ GPS Coordinates, by Douglas Ankney
- Strategies to Help Police Address Citizens With Special Needs, by Anthony Accurso
- Devastating Consequences of Chicago Gang Database – And No Way to Be Removed, by Bill Barton
- New Method to Determine Time of Death for Forensic Investigators, by Kevin Bliss
- Using Doctor-Prescribed Marijuana Could Send Some People Back to Prison, by Douglas Ankney
- Minnesota Lab Figures Out How to Tell Between Legal Hemp and Illegal Marijuana, by Dale Chappell
- Unrest After Kentucky Cops Shoot Sleeping Black Woman to Death in Her Bed While Serving No-Knock Warrant, by Edward Lyon
- Small Forensics Lab Finds Niche in Analyzing Tiniest Bits of Evidence, by Dale Chappell
- $8 Million Settlement for Wrongfully Convicted and Imprisoned Missouri Man, by Kevin Bliss
- Police Use of Robotic Technology Raises Civil Liberty Concerns, by Douglas Ankney
- New York Police Act With Impunity During Protests, by Kevin Bliss
- News in Brief
More from Douglas Ankney:
- Police Unions: Obstacles to Criminal Justice Reform and Police Accountability, Oct. 15, 2020
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court Announces Reckless Prosecutorial Misconduct Constitutes Overreaching Sufficient to Trigger Double Jeopardy Protections, Oct. 15, 2020
- Indiana Supreme Court Announces New Analytical Framework for Review of Substantive Double Jeopardy, Overruling Richardson, Oct. 15, 2020
- Fifth Circuit Reverses Conviction Based on Prejudicial Prosecutorial Misconduct, Oct. 15, 2020
- California Court of Appeal: ‘Violent Victim Rule’ Doesn’t Require Defendant to Have Had Knowledge of Victim’s Propensity for Violence, Oct. 15, 2020
- Ninth Circuit: Mere Passage of Time Doesn’t Attenuate Evidence From Initial Constitutional Violation, Oct. 15, 2020
- N.J. Supreme Court Announces Defendant Has Right to Question Cooperating Witness About Plea Deal and Possible Sentence Exposure Even When Witness Faced Same Exposure as Defendant, Oct. 15, 2020
- Missouri Supreme Court: Circuit Court Erred in Excluding Expert Witness Testimony Regarding Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification, Oct. 15, 2020
- California Supreme Court Reverses Murder Conviction and Death Sentence Because Police Failed To Honor Defendant’s Request for Counsel, Oct. 15, 2020
- Door Bells and Funeral Bells, Oct. 15, 2020
More from these topics:
- Mississippi Supreme Court Vacates Capital Murder Conviction Obtained With Bite Mark Comparison Evidence, Oct. 15, 2020. junk science, Wrongful Conviction.
- The Junk Science Cops Use to Decide You’re Lying, Sept. 15, 2020. junk science, Lie Detector Tests.
- Triaging Evidence Can Lead to Oversights and Misinterpretation, Aug. 21, 2020. junk science, Electronic Surveillance.
- D.C. Circuit Reverses Nearly 50-Year-Old Murder Conviction Over Faulty Hair Evidence, July 15, 2020. junk science.
- Myth of Technology as an Equalizing Force in Criminal Justice, July 15, 2020. junk science, Police State-Surveillance, Social Media.
- South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Murder Conviction Where State Presented Improper Testimony Regarding Trace DNA Evidence, July 15, 2020. junk science, DNA Evidence/Testing.
- Two New Forensic DNA Standards Added to the OSAC Registry, July 15, 2020. DNA Testing/Samples, junk science.
- Government Study Finds Facial Recognition Sorely Lacking in Accuracy, July 15, 2020. junk science, EP2P Software.
- New Method to Determine Time of Death for Forensic Investigators, July 15, 2020. junk science, Death/Bodily Injury.
- Minnesota Lab Figures Out How to Tell Between Legal Hemp and Illegal Marijuana, July 15, 2020. junk science, Medical Marijuana.