A new study at Queen’s University in Toronto could completely transform the way law enforcement handles crime scene forensics. The study looked into the identification abilities of individual strands of hair to help narrow down suspects in investigations. Currently, forensic scientists use blood samples generally found in small amounts in or around the crime scene, and test it to figure out the gender and ethnicity of suspects. This process, however, isn’t ideal since blood samples are easily contaminated and can deteriorate quickly if they aren’t kept in ideal conditions.
Hair, on the other hand, is much more durable and stable, making it better for testing. Many elements in the hair come from sweat secretions, which can then be isolated and tested. The process uses spectroscopy and statistical analysis to pinpoint characteristics which could be used in the near future to more quickly and accurately identify potential crime suspects.
The researchers in the study have been able to so far determine gender, as well as distinguish between three ethnicities: Caucasian, South Asian, and East Asian. During more extensive testing, they plan to be able to also determine age and geographical origin from individual strands of hair.
While this study was a proof-of-concept, future studies are being planned to explore the future of hair analysis in identifying people. We’ve always known that hair was one of the toughest parts of the human body, but now it looks like it might have crime fighting power too!