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Casey Anthony Trial - Differences in GCMS Tests for Chloroform Testified to & Articles About Dr. Rickenbach's Testimony

Casey Anthony Trial - Differences in GCMS Tests for Chloroform Testified to & Articles About Dr. Rickenbach's Testimony

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Published by Robert Frank

Addresses the differences between the GCMS test of the trunk carpet sample done by Dr. Rickenbach and the one done by Drs. Vass & Wise

Addresses the differences between the GCMS test of the trunk carpet sample done by Dr. Rickenbach and the one done by Drs. Vass & Wise

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Robert Frank on Oct 09, 2011
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09/17/2013

 
Differences in the GCMS Test of the Trunk Carpet Sample Takenfrom Casey Anthony’s Sunfire Done by Dr. Rickenbach and theGCMS Test Done by Drs. Vass and Wise
The GCMS test of the carpet from the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car done by Dr. Rickenbach in no waynegates or disproves the test done by Dr. Vass and Dr. Wise because they are two different kinds of test.The Vass and Wise test was a
quantitative
test while Rickenbach’s test was a
qualitative
test. Rickenbach'stest measured the mere presence of chloroform in the carpet sample while the test done by Vass and Wisemeasured levels of compounds present in a similar sample.In addition to being different kinds of tests, the way the samples are handled is different for each test. Forthe quantitative test, the samples are handled in such a way to preserve the amounts of compounds presentin the sample at the time of collection, and they are preserved in airtight cans; in addition, the tester createsan
external standard 
in order to accurately identify quantities. For the qualitative test, a sample is NOTpreserved in an airtight container because the test is not performed to find levels of compounds, only whatcompounds are present; in addition, the tester creates an
internal standard 
rather than an
external standard.
The internal standard used by Rickenbach, is merely a negative and positive control for the tester to ensurethat the GCMS is working correctly; the negative control is just running the GCMS with nothing in it toensure that it does not detect the compound when it should not while the positive control is running theGCMS with a known sample of the compound to ensure that the GCMS will detect it when it should.Rickenbach testified that he was not qualified to speak about levels of chloroform because that is not thekind of test he did. He also said that he was surprised to find any chloroform at all. This is why the jury hadto go over the evidence and why those who think she is not guilty need to do so as well because those whothink that Rickenbach's test in some way refuted the Vass and Wise test are just plain wrong.
External and Internal GCMS Standards
External standards come from an outside company whose main goal is to produce standards for use by anyperson at any place in the world. Any 'errors' they have in their standards will be seen by many people andthey will make purchasers of those standards aware of any contamination. So while external standards cansave people a LOT of time and provide more accurate/confident results, they are fairly expensive.An Internal Standard is made by the people who are using the GC/MS machine themselves. The purity of the standard can vary on a day to day basis depending on who made the standard, what glassware theyused, what bottle of chemicals they used, etc. etc. Also, the 'error' of said standard isn't really known. It'sMUCH cheaper to use an internal standard, but the accuracy of your results suffer.The term
standard
in chromatography is employed in two ways. It can be used to describe a referencesubstance, the retention time of which is compared with the retention time of an unknown substance foridentification purposes. Alternatively, it can be used to provide a reference peak height or peak area whichcan be compared with the peak heights or areas of the substances of interest to provide quantitativeinformation. A standard employed in either application can be used in two ways, either as an
internalstandard
or as an
external standard
. An
internal standard
is added as a known quantity to the sampleitself, but must be chosen so that it is adequately resolved from its neighbors so that accurate measurementscan be made. By using a synthetic sample mixture the response factors of the solutes of interest and theinternal standard can be determined. Then, from the retention of the standard and the retention ratios of thesolutes of interest to the standard, the identity of the components of interest can be confirmed. From thepeak heights or areas of the standard and those of the solutes of interest the amount present of each solute
 
of interest can also be assessed. The
external standard
is used when a suitable internal standard that canbe separated from the components of the mixture can not be selected. In this case the external standard isrun as a separate chromatogram under exactly the same conditions. The properties of the standard from theseparate chromatogram are then compared with the properties of the solutes in the chromatogram of themixture. In general, analyses obtained by employing an internal standard provide more accurate results thanthose employing an external standard.http://www.chromatography-online.org/topics/standard.htmlAnother reference is at the following link, but there are a variety of articles on the internet that explain thedifference between the two standards.http://books.google.com/books?id=xnWg1uM94TEC&pg=PA401&lpg=PA401&dq=gcms+external+internal+standard&source=bl&ots=NrRzm3dPkJ&sig=7-725spzr2CAcxF5g2mCPTTK6Uo&hl=en&ei=0e2QTveFCcjp0QG008VR&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&sqi=2&ved=0CHkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false
A Simplified Analogy
Okay, for those who still don’t get it, I am going to make it as simple as possible. You wake up in themorning, look out your window and see an overcast sky. You notice some puddles ½ an inch or ¾ of aninch deep. As you gaze out the window, you know that it rained over night because there are puddles of water on the ground. You then wonder how much rain fell while you were asleep during the night, but thisis not the first time you wondered about this. The last time you did was before you went to bed last night.You knew it was going to rain during the night, so you got yourself a 12-inch long plastic cylinder, markedoff each inch from the bottom to the top of the cylinder, and placed it in an open space in your yard. Youthen retrieve the cylinder from the yard, and when you look at it, you see that the water level in the cylinderis 3 ½ inches. This tells you, with an instrument that was designed to give you specific quantitative data,that the amount of rain that fell over night was 3 ½ inches.Now, in this analogy, looking out your window is a qualitative test of the weather; it’s raining. There aresome shallow puddles on the ground that tell you that it rained, but they don’t tell you how much it rainedbecause puddles are not designed to tell you the quantity of rainfall. This is similar to the QUALITATIVEtest of the carpet sample with the GCMS. This test only indicates what compounds are present in thesample because the test is not designed to give information about the quantities of compounds in thesample, just as looking out your window can tell you what kind of weather is present without telling youhow much weather there actually was.The cylinder that was placed in the yard overnight gives you specific quantitative data about the rain, howmuch it rained over night, because that is what it is designed to do. This is similar to the QUANTITATIVEtest that was done of the carpet sample; it provides QUANTITIES of compounds in the sample because thatis what it is designed to do, just as the marked cylinder is designed to tell you how much rain fell overnight.The puddles show that it rained, not how much, because they are not designed to do that. The rain capturedin the cylinder proves how much it rained because that is what it is designed to do. Do the shallow puddlesyou saw looking out your window contradict the quantitative data that you got from the cylinder? Of coursethey don’t because the puddles were not designed to give quantitative data; they can provide qualitativedata about the weather but not quantitative data about the weather. It is the same with the GCMS tests; theQUALITATIVE GCMS test does NOT contradict the QUANTITATIVE GCMS test because the former ISNOT designed to measure quantities while the latter test IS designed to measure quantities.
 
 
News Articles Pertaining to Dr. Rickenbach’s Testimony
Rickenbach said chloroform is a volatile substance that doesn't stay around long. He told prosecutor Jeff Ashton he would have expected the chloroform to dissipate by the time the fabric was tested."I was surprised to even get any results for chloroform," he said.http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-06-07/news/os-casey-anthony-trial-day-12-20110607_1_anthony-case-chloroform-casey-anthony================================================WFTV-Channel 9’s Steve Barrett highlighted the testimony of Dr. Michael Rickenbach, an FBI forensicschemist. Rickenbach said he was ”very surprised to even get a result for chloroform” from a carpet samplefrom Anthony’s car. (The sample had been packed in non-airtight box.)http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_tv_tvblog/2011/06/casey-anthony-less-coughing-in-court-and-fewer-notes-too.html================================================Rickenbach, however, did not want to offer specific levels, saying it would not be appropriate because heconducted qualitative testing, confirming chloroform's presence, rather than quantitative testing, whichwould detect its level.Under questioning from prosecutor Jeff Ashton, Rickenbach said the samples were sent to him in acardboard box, not a sealed container, which could have allowed some of the chloroform to evaporate,lowering the levels present. Having the car trunk open for a time might also lower the levels, he said.http://insession.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/07/forensic-chemist-police-dog-handler-take-stand-in-casey-anthony-trial/ ================================================On Tuesday, Dr. Michael Rickenbach, an FBI forensics expert testified at the Casey Anthony trial, notinghe was surprised to detect chloroform emanating from evidence taken from Casey's car trunk.Baez cross-examined Rickenbach, attempting to discredit the technology used to identify the variouschemicals found in the trunk of Casey's car.Rickenbach, however, remained steadfast that chloroform was found inside the trunk – a constant themeamong the testimony of prosecution experts during the trial.“Residues of chloroform were detected on that specimen,” said Rickenbach, referring to a carpet sampletaken from the trunk.Although during cross-examination Rickenbach conceded that the he did not find the chloroform levelshigh, on re-direct the prosecution clarified through testimony that the sample was packaged in a mannerthat chloroform would have dissipated.

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