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Characterization of the Products Formed by the Reaction of Trichlorocyanuric Acid with 2-Propanol

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 54 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2009 Pages: 1336-1340
P. Mark L. Sandercock, Ph.D.; Julie S. Barnett, Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2009
5 pages
This paper reports the methods and results of an investigation of what was initially believed to be the intentional burning and death of a cat by dousing it with and lighting an ignitable liquid.
First, the exposure of the cat to flame was ruled out. The forensic investigation then determined that the perpetrator had intentionally mixed together a common outdoor swimming pool chlorinator, trichlorocyanuric acid (TCCA), and 2-propoanol (also know as isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol). The reaction of these two chemicals resulted in the formation of cyanuric acid residue, hydrochloric acid, and the evolution of a significant volume of chlorine gas. Further alpha-chlorination side reactions also occurred between 2-propanol and TCCA to produce a variety of chlorinated 2-propanone species that were detected on the submitted evidence. The identification of the products of both the main reaction and the side reactions allowed the authors to determine what chemicals were originally mixed together by the perpetrator. Exposure of the cat to the chlorine gas, in turn, likely caused the burns observed by police. It was impossible to determine whether exposure of the cat to the chlorine gas contributed to its death, or whether it was exposed to the chlorine gas after it had already been killed. 7 figures and 15 references