Identification of humans through characteristic compounds detected in human scent

Human scent profile analysis and comparison is an area of analytical research that has attracted a great deal of interest in the last twenty years. The medical community’s interests lie in the possible use of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by the human body as a diagnostic tool for disease while the forensic community’s interest is primarily in the use of human scent evidence as an investigative tool. Human odor has long been cited as a probable parameter containing individualizing characteristics that can be exploited as a biometric measure. Identifying the scent of individual persons using specially trained canines is a well-known forensic method which is frequently used in criminal investigations.

The results of these identifications are generally understood to be subjective and are legally accepted as corroborating evidence only in some countries. In the Netherlands identification using canines in the so called “geurproef” has been discarded in 2011 due to the fact that it would be unscientific. In the United States the use of canines for scent detection has not gained widespread acceptance due to the lack of definite studies demonstrating the reliability of this approach. Hence, the development of an objective instrumental method that will enable comparative scent identifications is highly desirable. In this project we will try to identify the primary scent profile of humans and test whether it is possible to identify humans by this profile.

This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):