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The Evaluation of Fatty Acid Ratios in Latent Fingermarks by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) Analysis


  • Funding received from The Pennsylvania State University, Forensic Science Program.

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Frank L. Dorman, Ph.D.

107 Whitmore Laboratories

Penn State University

University Park, PA 16802



Despite advances in DNA, fingermarks remain one the best forms of evidence available. While fingermarks are routinely analyzed in terms of their patterns, it may be possible to obtain additional information in terms of their chemical composition. If successful, a chemical analysis of the constituents of a fingermark may give scientists additional information that may help in the identification of a person. The results presented herein describe the initial investigation into the analytical determination of some of these compounds, specifically the fatty acids. This study was specifically aimed at identifying possible fatty acids, which could aid in profiling or perhaps uniquely identifying an individual. Preliminary data obtained in this study suggests that this may in fact be possible, though additional research is certainly necessary. Utilizing gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, significant differences in the ratios of several fatty acid methyl esters were found when comparing individuals of varying race and gender. In addition, large intervariability and intravariability was discovered for some compounds, suggesting the possibility of being able to individualize based on chemical profile. Follow-up investigations will continue to determine whether this continues to be the case as greater numbers of individuals are sampled and more extensive control and information on the subjects is obtained.

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