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Validation of X‐Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry for Determining Osseous or Dental Origin of Unknown Material*

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Abstract:  Forensic anthropological examinations typically involve the analysis of human skeletal remains, but in cases where samples are very small and/or physically compromised, it may first be necessary to determine whether the material is even osseous or dental in origin. X‐ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) is a technique that reveals the elemental composition of materials and is hypothesized to have utility in such cases. XRF analysis was conducted on a variety of tissues and materials in unaltered and altered (damaged) states. With few exceptions, osseous and dental tissues in unaltered and altered conditions contained characteristic levels of calcium and phosphorus, while other materials did not. Materials could be accurately identified as osseous or dental in origin based on the calcium and phosphorus levels identified by XRF, and we therefore conclude that XRF analysis is a valid and effective means of determining osseous or dental origin of unknown material.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division, Forensic Anthropology Program, 2501 Investigation Pkwy, Quantico, VA 22135. 2: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division, Chemistry Unit, 2501 Investigation Pkwy, Quantico, VA 22135.

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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