Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic anthropology researcher with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, tested various samples from the Casey Anthony crime scene materials, finding very high levels of chloroform in carpet from Anthony's car trunk.
Vass explained "parts per trillion" of chloroform can be found as a result of human decomposition, but he found "parts per million" in the carpet sample from the Anthony car trunk, or about a million times higher than normal. The amount of chloroform was also much higher than would be found in a normal carpet sample which he also tested.
As he testified Monday morning, Defense attorney Jose Baez made dozens of objections to the testimony of Vass and exhibits produced by the prosecution, but was overruled by Judge Belvin Perry. Baez objected to Vass' testimony on physics subjects, since Vass is not a physicist. and objected he was not an expert in areas to which he was testifying.
Chloroform has a high rate of evaporation like gasoline, he said, and after time should be disbursed rapidly. And because of this high rate he could not estimate what the exact concentration might have been before his examination.
Chloroform, a sweet smelling liquid, in the early 1900s was commonly used as an anesthetic but was abandoned because of it's tendency to cause fatal cardiac arrhythmia or "sudden sniffer's death."
It has been used criminally for murder and for sexually assaulting minors in recent years. It can become dangerous to life at concentrations of 500 parts per million according to OSHA. It has been banned in the U.S. in consumer products since 1972, having once been in toothpastes and cold medicines. It is still allowed in the U.K.
A combination of household ingredients can inadvertently produce chloroform, examples are mixing chlorine bleach powder with acetone, ethanol, or isopropyl alcohol. Chloroform is also used as a solvent to extract morphine from poppies.