How Hairs Are Used in Forensic Science


Authored by Darlene Zagata in Science 
Published on 08-17-2009

Forensic science is used in crime scenes to gather evidence and prosecute wrong doers. Forensic scientists examine blood, hair, fingerprints, chemicals and other substances that may be found at the scene of a crime. Scientists study and identify the evidence left behind. Trace evidence may also be found on the victim’s body and not just the scene itself. The most common biological samples found are hair, blood and semen, from which DNA can be extracted and used for analysis.

When hair is found on a victim or crime scene, it must first be identified as human or animal. If one or more hairs are found and they are human, it must then be determined whether they are from the same person or different people. Forensic scientists classify six different types of hair from the human body. This includes hair from the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, mustache, underarm and pubic area. The forensic scientist will examine the hair, analyzing such features as size, shape, color, texture and length to determine what area of the body the hair originated from. Hair from the head can be used in determining a person’s ethnicity. DNA testing can also determine the sex of an individual.

Although hair and other biological samples used in forensic science are mostly associated with being a means to identify the perpetrater of a crime, they have other uses also. They can also be used to prove the innocence of those who have been wrongly accused. Biological samples are used to determine paternity. They can match organ donors with recipients as well as identify victims of accidents. There is no doubt that hair, like other biological samples, can provide vital evidence in crime scene investigations and other matters.

Hair is a valuable piece of evidence because it is durable and can yield considerable information about its owner. The examination of the root structure of hair can allow scientists to determine whether or not a struggle ensued. Hair can be used to help reconstruct events since it makes contact with other surfaces and may provide insight into the surroundings of where the individual may have been. An analysis of hair can also help determine whether a person was poisoned or whether he had taken any drugs.

As previously mentioned, hair analysis can determine whether a hair is from a human or animal and if it is human, the person’s race can be determined. It works basically the same if the hair is from an animal since the species of animal can also be determined. Hair also proves to be a valuable biological sample in identifying a body that has begun to decompose. Hair may also be found, other than the deceased person’s, which may provide clues for investigators. Forensic science has many uses and much progress has been made in the development of analysis and determination of evidence. With the help of hair and other biological samples, techniques in forensic science allow investigators to solve crimes that may otherwise go unsolved.


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