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The Sniff and Know Myth

Myth:

A trained crime scene investigator can usually identify an unknown powder by sight, smell or taste.

Fact:

Contrary to television portrayals, crime scene specialists never taste or sniff an unknown substance to determine its composition because of the danger posed by the potential presence of poisons. Instead, investigators sometimes carry a hand‐held portable kit to conduct a preliminary, presumptive testing of unknown powders in the field. Only confirmatory analysis with more sophisticated and accurate instrumentation can conclusively determine the components of a sample powder.


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