U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

A study on the occurrence of glass and paint across various cities in the United States - Part II: Background presence of paint in the general population

NCJ Number
Forensic Chemistry Volume: 34 Dated: July 2023
Date Published

This article presents research into forensic variances found in glass and paint manufactured in the United States.


The frequency of occurrence of paint in the general population was estimated in four U.S. cities; Houston, TX, Huntsville, TX, Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA. A total of 1,883 garment and footwear areas were sampled from the 410 participants. From these volunteers, up to six garment areas were sampled for the presence of paint and glass. Recovered paint particles were analyzed via microscopy and micro-FTIR spectroscopy. Overall, 111 paint fragments were recovered from 21% of all the participants, with the Houston set yielding 50% of those fragments, while 21% came from the Morgantown set, 26% from the Huntsville set, and 3.6% from the Pittsburgh set. Paint particles were recovered primarily on the upper surfaces and lower surfaces of the garments. Much of the paint recovered was single-layered architectural or automotive paint with various binders and pigment compositions. The general trends and differences of paint fragments from these cities are discussed, including the effects on the frequency rates of the types of garments and footwear worn and the main modes of transportation. The concurrent presence of both glass and paint being recovered from the same individual was rare, and even more uncommon to find both traces in a single item. In this case, there was only one individual in the Houston set who had both types of particles on their person, and no garment areas or footwear areas with both traces present. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023