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Forensic aspects of the weathering and ageing of spray paints

Jost, Cédric, Muehlethaler, Cyril, Massonnet, Geneviève
Forensic science international 2016 v.258 pp. 32-40
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, climate, environmental degradation, forensic sciences, humidity, paints, photooxidation, pigments, solar radiation, temperature, ultraviolet radiation, weathering
This paper presents a preliminary study on the degradation of spray paint samples, illustrated by Optical, FTIR and Raman measurements. As opposed to automotive paints which are specifically designed for improved outdoor exposure and protected using hindered amine light absorbers (HALS) and ultra-violet absorbers (UVA), the spray paints on their side are much simpler in composition and very likely to suffer more from joint effects of solar radiation, temperature and humidity. Six different spray paint were exposed to outdoor UV-radiation for a total period of three months and both FTIR and Raman measurements were taken systematically during this time. These results were later compared to an artificial degradation using a climate chamber. For infrared spectroscopy, degradation curves were plotted using the photo-oxidation index (POI), and could be successfully approximated with a logarithmic fitting (R²>0.8). The degradation can appear after the first few days of exposure and be important until 2 months, where it stabilizes and follow a more linear trend afterwards. One advantage is that the degradation products appeared almost exclusively at the far end (∼3000cm⁻¹) of mid-infrared spectra, and that the fingerprint region of the spectra remained stable over the studied period of time. Raman results suggest that the pigments on the other side, are much more stable and have not shown any sign of degradation over the time of this study. Considering the forensic implications of this environmental degradation, care should be taken when comparing samples if weathering is an option (e.g. an exposed graffiti compared to the paint from a fresh spray paint can). Degradation issues should be kept in mind as they may induce significant differences between paint samples of common origin.