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Non-Destructive Biological Evidence Collection with Alternative Swabs and Adhesive Lifters

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 61 Dated: 2016
Date Published
0 pages

This study examined the efficacy of alternative swab matrices and adhesive lifters when collecting blood and fingerprints from glass, painted drywall, 100-percent cotton, and copy paper.


In forensic science, biological material is typically collected from evidence via wet/dry double swabbing with cotton swabs, which is effective but can visibly damage an item's surface. When an item's appearance must be maintained, dry swabbing and tape-lifting may be used as collection techniques that are visually nondestructive to substrates' surfaces. In the current study, data were evaluated by determining the percent profile and quality score for each STR profile generated. Hydraflock® swabs, BVDA Gellifters®, and Scenesafe FAST™ tape performed as well as or better than cotton swabs when collecting fingerprints from painted drywall and 100-percent cotton. Collection success was also dependent on the type of biological material sampled and the substrate on which it was deposited. These results demonstrated that alternative swabs and adhesive lifters can be effective for nondestructive DNA collection from various substrates. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2016