Identification of firearms handling by the [Fe(PDT)3] 2+ complex: Chemical and time-dependent factors

Yaniv Y. Avissar, Assaf E. Sagiv, Daniel Mandler, Joseph Almog*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Handling of a gun results in the formation of invisible impressions, caused by transfer of iron traces to the skin surface. Visualization of these impressions is possible by spraying the palms with a solution of 3-(2-pyridyl)-5,6-diphenyl-1,2,4-triazine (PDT), which forms a magenta complex with iron(II) residues. Hence, mark intensity is directly related to the amounts of iron transferred to the palm. Palmar sweat plays a major role in iron transfer from the firearm to the hand. More factors, however, are involved in this process. Three time-dependent factors have been studied with relation to their effect on the developed mark: the gripping duration of the weapon; the time elapsed from the contact; and the rate of iron dissolution in aqueous solutions containing sweat components in physiological concentrations. We found that the amounts of iron transferred to the palm depend on both, the gripping period and the levels of palmar moisture. Thus, only a few seconds of gripping were required for developing good marks (corresponding to 80 ng cm-2 of iron) on highly-moistured hands, much longer gripping periods were necessary for developing marks of similar intensity on relatively dry hands. Experiments that aimed at studying the effect of sweat components on metallic iron dissolution were carried out in aqueous solutions. It was found that chloride ions in physiological concentrations remarkably enhanced the dissolution, while l-serine, the major amino acid in palmar sweat, had a detrimental effect on this process. Urea, another sweat component, had only a minor effect on the dissolution rate.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)328-333
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2005


  • 3-(2-Pyridyl)-5,6-diphenyl-1,2,4-triazine (PDT)
  • Dissolution rate
  • Firearms handling
  • Forensic science
  • Iron determination
  • Palmar sweat
  • Serine
  • Urea


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