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Student blasts away traditional fingerprint biometric dusting with new forensic technique



Could ‘dusting for fingerprints’ be replaced by sandblasting? A University of Toronto student has developed a blasting technique which biometric experiments show could be more effective than dusting at detecting fingerprints at a crime scene.

Fourth-year forensic science student at University of Toronto Mississauga, Bethany Krebs, has developed a method which involves the abrasive blasting of a special powder across a surface to reveal fingerprints for biometric analysis, according to her university’s news site.

Krebs’ experiments show the method to be more effective and more economical than the more traditional powder approach.

“One of the biggest issues is time,” says Krebs. “If you have a large and complicated crime scene, it could take a long time to brush areas for fingerprints.” Conventional brushing by hand can also damage and latent fingerprints and reduce their likelihood of producing a biometric match.

Krebs developed a gravity-fee sandblasting gun which is powered by an air compressor and sprays fluorescent yellow corn starch powder, which is proven to be effective and is less toxic than compounds used in dusting.

“This has the potential to be a viable alternative to detecting fingerprints, particularly with larger crime scenes where there are time and resource constraints,” says Krebs, who is exploring ways to publish her findings.

A novel fingerprint collection method using a kelvin probe which could help preserve biometric evidence was described to Biometric Update in an interview last year.

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