Now, database of scalp hair to help nab criminals

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SYDNEY - Thanks to a new database of scalp hair characteristics, a single hair found at a crime scene can help reveal the culprit’s identity.

Paul Barton, forensic scientist from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, analysed donated scalp hair from 70 people of each gender from African, Caucasian and Asian backgrounds using infra-red radiation instruments.

“I analysed scalp hair fibres using a novel approach for hair analysis in the forensic context to look at the structural chemistry of each fibre,” Barton said, according to a Queensland’s release.

“By recording patterns of the structure of the keratin protein in the hair, I was able to build forensic profiles of the donors which could be discriminated on the basis of gender, ethnicity and hair treatment,” he said.

“I found, for example, that women’s hair has a slightly different protein structure, and they exhibit more of certain amino acids,” Barton said.

He said it can also be ascertained whether the hair came from someone who has had their hair bleached or permanently dyed.

“It means investigators can instantly get information from a single hair at the crime scene that they didn’t have available to them before, with the aid of portable infrared radiation instrumentation,” Barton concluded.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

will not be displayed