Forensic Analysis

5.1.2.1. Chemical Analysis

Chemical analysis may be relevant if the hair has been dyed or contaminated with exogenous substances, such as a lubricant or hairspray.

5.1.2.2. Comparison Microscopy

Although this was the standard method of hair analysis, discrimination of hairs by microscopic means alone yields limited information in terms of assailant identification. Therefore, although retrieved foreign hairs and pubic hair combings should be saved, it is no longer necessary to obtain control samples routinely from the complainant, although they may be required from a defendant in custody. In the rare circumstance that it should become necessary to perform comparison microscopy, a control sample from the complainant can be obtained later.

5.1.2.3. DNA Analysis

Because of the improved sensitivity provided by PCR techniques and the development of mitochondrial DNA analysis, stronger, more objective conclusions in terms of assailant identification can be reached from hairs both with and without roots (56).

Research has recently been undertaken to determine if FISH technology could be used to identify the gender of retrieved hair. The research has demonstrated that there is a potential forensic application in sexual offense cases where microscopy cannot determine the source of the hair (57).

5.1.2.4. Drug Analysis

Only specialist laboratories offer hair analysis because hair specimens are not suitable for comprehensive drug screens and the sample is quickly consumed in testing for a few drugs (58-60). It must be noted that hair cannot be tested for alcohol.

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