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Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 406, Issue 30, pp 7817–7825 | Cite as

“Fooling fido”—chemical and behavioral studies of pseudo-explosive canine training aids

  • William D. Kranz
  • Nicholas A. Strange
  • John V. GoodpasterEmail author
Research Paper

Abstract

Genuine explosive materials are traditionally employed in the training and testing of explosive-detecting canines so that they will respond reliably to these substances. However, challenges arising from the acquisition, storage, handling, and transportation of explosives have given rise to the development of “pseudo-explosive” training aids. These products attempt to emulate the odor of real explosives while remaining inert. Therefore, a canine trained on a pseudo-explosive should respond to its real-life analog. Similarly, a canine trained on an actual explosive should respond to the pseudo-explosive as if it was real. This research tested those assumptions with a focus on three explosives: single-base smokeless powder, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), and a RDX-based plastic explosive (Composition C-4). Using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry with solid phase microextraction as a pre-concentration technique, we determined that the volatile compounds given off by pseudo-explosive products consisted of various solvents, known additives from explosive formulations, and common impurities present in authentic explosives. For example, simulated smokeless powders emitted terpenes, 2,4-dinitrotoluene, diphenylamine, and ethyl centralite. Simulated TNT products emitted 2,4- and 2,6-dinitrotoluene. Simulated C-4 products emitted cyclohexanone, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, and dimethyldinitrobutane. We also conducted tests to determine whether canines trained on pseudo-explosives are capable of alerting to genuine explosives and vice versa. The results show that canines trained on pseudo-explosives performed poorly at detecting all but the pseudo-explosives they are trained on. Similarly, canines trained on actual explosives performed poorly at detecting all but the actual explosives on which they were trained.

Graphical Abstract

Example of a test where a series of identical, unmarked containers are presented to a trained canine. Each container may contain nothing (a blank), a substance on which the canine has been imprinted (target odor), a substance that is being tested for canine response (test odor) or a non-explosive material (distractor)

Keywords

Canine olfaction Explosives detection Solid phase microextraction Explosives Pseudo-explosives 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge Vohne Liche Kennels for their assistance in training and hosting the animals, as well as the canines themselves: Shmonski, Jeff, Hard, Gucci, Jory, Eso, Daisy, Aaron, Hero, Pack, Gray, Tessa, Roy, Boefie, Tony, and Grim. Financial support for this research was provided by the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) of the Department of Defense.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William D. Kranz
    • 1
  • Nicholas A. Strange
    • 1
  • John V. Goodpaster
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Forensic and Investigative Sciences ProgramIndiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)IndianapolisUSA

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