Validation of a polymer odor capture-and-release (POCR) aid for training canines to detect triacetone triperoxide (TATP)

Alison Simon, Lucia Lazarowski, Jack A. Barrow, Kelly Van Arsdale, Melissa Singletary, Craig Angle, Paul Waggoner, Jarrad Wagner, Kathie Giles, Terry Fischer, Bart Rogers, William MacCrehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A major issue in canine training for the detection of hazardous materials is the limited availability of materials for handlers and trainers on a routine basis. This is particularly a challenge for homemade explosives such as triacetone triperoxide (TATP), which is friction and impact sensitive, making it hazardous to handle for all canine and bomb technician personnel. The polymer odor capture and release training aid (POCR) was designed as a solution to this challenge. The TATP POCR consists of a layer of absorptive polymer enclosed in a seamless metal container. In this configuration, the POCR provides a non-hazardous training aid that delivers odor at a known, reproducible rate. This study evaluated the TATP POCR both chemically and in canine testing to provide a validated training aid. Chemical analysis determined how much TATP was absorbed by the polymer in the POCR, and subsequently determined that the POCR had an odor concentration comparable to a 1 g laboratory-grade TATP training aid with a 13-hole lid. Finally, the dissipation rate of TATP from the POCR (7.8 m/min) was established up to 0.5 m. The chemical results were compared to the success in canine detection results. Three phases of canine testing were conducted: 1) Initial validation with an internal cohort of canines imprinted on the TATP POCR, 2) Pilot testing with operational explosives detection canines imprinted on the bulk TATP, and 3) External testing with operational explosives detection canines imprinted on either TATP POCR or bulk TATP. Across all phases, alerts to the respective testing odor in both controlled odor discrimination and operational search testing was above 80 %. For the internal cohort of canines that were trained on the TATP POCR, alerts to the TATP training aid were >90 % and false alerts were < 10 %, validating the training method and material. The combined results provide evidence that the TATP POCR may be used efficiently in initial or maintenance training as well as in retaining motivation and performance in operational settings. This is one of the first studies of its kind to thoroughly evaluate a canine training aid by presenting chemical analysis and supporting canine testing across internally-sourced and operational externally-sourced canine groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100454
JournalForensic Chemistry
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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