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Gamma Irradiation as a Biological Decontaminant and Its Effect on Common Fingermark Detection Techniques and DNA Profiling

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The use of disease-causing organisms and their toxins against the civilian population has defined bioterrorism and opened forensic science up to the challenges of processing contaminated evidence. This study sought to determine the use of gamma irradiation as an effective biological decontaminant and its effect on the recovery of latent fingermarks from both porous and nonporous items. Test items were contaminated with viable spores marked with latent prints and then decontaminated using a cobalt 60 gamma irradiator. Fingermark detection was the focus with standard methods including 1,2-indanedione, ninhydrin, diazafluoren-9-one, and physical developer used during this study. DNA recovery using 20% Chelex extraction and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was also explored. Gamma irradiation proved effective as a bacterial decontaminant with D-values ranging from 458 to 500 Gy for nonporous items and 797–808 Gy for porous ones. The results demonstrated the successful recovery of latent marks and DNA establishing gamma irradiation as a viable decontamination option.

Keywords: DNA; bioterrorism; forensic science; gamma irradiation; latent fingermarks; microbial forensics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation, PMB 1, Menai, New South Wales, Australia. 2: Forensic and Data Centres, Australian Federal Police, GPO Box 401, Canberra ACT, Australia. 3: University of Technology, Centre for Forensic Science, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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