The forensic use of luminol chemiluminescence to detect traces of blood inside motor vehicles Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The luminol test for blood was carried out on a set of interior fittings and surfaces inside three different makes of modern motor car. The surfaces and fittings provided little interference with the test for blood, although there was some detectable chemiluminescence when the test was applied to blood-free material from a seatbelt, a boot-lining and a gear-knob. The case with which haemoglobin samples could be washed off interior car surfaces was also examined for seat fabrics, carpets, roof-linings and various other plastic interior surfaces. A standard wash with water alone was not very effective and removed only ca. 50% of the haemoglobin. A standard wash with soapy water or with a proprietary multipurpose car cleaner removed ca. 90% of the haemoglobin from the tested surface. The effect of high car interior temperatures on haemoglobin samples that were subsequently used in the luminol test was also examined. It was shown that the sensitivity of the luminol test was not decreased but was increased by the prior heating of a haemoglobin sample. This effect was attributed to the thermal conversion of haemoglobin to the more brighter catalyst for chemiluminescence, methaemoglobin. The enthalpy of this conversion in the solid state was found to be 14.1 kJ/mol.

publication date

  • September 2004