Degradation patterns of natural and synthetic textiles on a soil surface during summer and winter seasons studied using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Spectrochimica Acta - Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, 2017, 185 pp. 69 - 76
Issue Date:
2017-10-05
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Textiles are a valuable source of forensic evidence and the nature and condition of textiles collected from a crime scene can assist investigators in determining the nature of the death and aid in the identification of the victim. Until now, much of the knowledge of textile degradation in forensic contexts has been based on the visual inspection of material collected from soil environments. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the potential of a more quantitative approach to the understanding of forensic textile degradation through the application of infrared spectroscopy. Degradation patterns of natural and synthetic textile materials as they were subjected to a natural outdoor environment in Australia were investigated. Cotton, polyester and polyester – cotton blend textiles were placed on a soil surface during the summer and winter seasons and were analysed over periods 1 and 1.5 years, respectively, and examined using attenuated total reflectance (ATR) spectroscopy. Statistical analysis of the spectral data obtained for the cotton material correlated with visual degradation and a difference in the onset of degradation between the summer and winter season was revealed. The synthetic material did not show any signs of degradation either visually or statistically throughout the experimental period and highlighted the importance of material type in terms of preservation. The cotton section from the polyester – cotton blend samples was found to behave in a similar manner to that of the 100% cotton samples, however principal component analysis (PCA) demonstrated that the degradation patterns were less distinct in both the summer and winter trial for the blend samples. These findings indicated that the presence of the synthetic material may have inhibited the degradation of the natural material. The use of statistics to analyse the spectral data obtained for textiles of forensic interest provides a better foundation for the interpretation of the data obtained using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy, and has provided insight into textile degradation processes relevant to a soil environment.
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