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The Development and Evaluation of Radiological Decontamination Procedures for Documents, Document Inks, and Latent Fingermarks on Porous Surfaces

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Criminal acts such as an attack utilizing a radiological dispersal device (RDD or dirty bomb), the manufacture of such a device, or the illicit trafficking of radioactive materials would warrant a criminal investigation. This could involve the collection, transportation, and analysis of radiologically contaminated trace evidence. But are law enforcement agencies and forensic scientists capable of dealing with this? This research investigates the decontamination efficacy of two decontamination techniques (chemical and physical) designed for the removal of radiological material from documents of forensic importance. The impact that these procedures have on the development of latent fingermarks and the forensic analysis of the inks on these documents is also studied. It was found that slight changes in the color and chemical composition of a variety of document inks and a destruction of fingermark ridges occurred after chemical decontamination. Physical decontamination had no impact on these parameters.

Keywords: counter terrorism; document examination; document inks; forensic science; latent fingermarks; radiological decontamination; radiological forensics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01346.x

Affiliations: Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation, PMB 1, Menai, NSW, Australia 2234.

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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