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Overview of Trace Evidence

Date Published
June 21, 2016

Fibers, hair, soil, wood, gunshot residue and pollen are only a few examples of trace evidence that may be transferred between people, objects or the environment during a crime. Investigators can potentially link a suspect and a victim to a mutual location through trace evidence. For example, a fiber sample obtained from a suspect's person can be identified through scientific analysis as originating from a garment worn by the victim. The analysis of the fiber evidence can help establish if the victim and suspect were in the same area.

Trace evidence examiners would greatly benefit from advancements in this forensic discipline. To increase the value of trace evidence, NIJ seeks to fund research to improve and enhance the ability of the forensic science community to identify, analyze and interpret evidence. Areas of interest include:

  • The development of new tools and techniques to detect, collect and preserve evidence from crime scenes.
  • Instruments that decrease the time and labor needed for trace evidence analysis.
  • New approaches and enhancement of current approaches to interpreting trace evidence data.

National Institute of Justice, "Overview of Trace Evidence," June 21, 2016, nij.ojp.gov:
Date Created: June 21, 2016