U.S. Department of Justice


Date of this Version



Forensic Science International 284 (2018) 204–218


This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.



An extensive literature review and new post-irradiation experimental results are presented of genotyping blood stains and hair, and physical examinations of latent fingerprints, hairs, and fibers. Results indicate that successful development of nuclear short tandem repeat (STR) and mitochondrial DNA sequence profiles from human blood and hair evidence is possible—up to a point—following exposure to gamma, neutron, beta, and alpha radiation at several levels that would most likely be present at this type of crime scene (i.e., a “dirty bomb,” etc.). Commencing at gamma radiation levels between 90 and 900 kGy, DNA analysis using conventional DNA techniques was unsuccessful. In general, irradiation negatively affected the quality of latent fingerprints. All four radiation types degraded most fingerprint samples at all doses; nevertheless, many fingerprints remained of value for potential use in comparison. Although variable from one hair to another, microscopic changes observed for all types and levels of irradiation could potentially result in false exclusions. Negligible microscopic changes were observed in papers and fibers (used as substrates for fingerprints and bloodstains) up to 90 kGy gamma, but fluorescence of fibers began to change above that dose. Paper and fibers, as well as plastic evidence enclosures, became extremely brittle leading to breakage after a gamma dose of 900 kGy.