Monitoring human decomposition products collected in clothing: an infrared spectroscopy study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2019
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences. The ability to monitor changes in human decomposition chemistry provides a potentially valuable tool for an understanding of the fate of human remains. This study reports the findings of an experimental study of a decomposing human cadaver investigated using infrared spectroscopy. This study was carried out at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) with a donated human cadaver clothed in cotton. An examination of the fluid retained by the cotton revealed that lipids and proteins, and their corresponding decomposition products, could be identified for the different stages of decomposition. The mechanisms for the changes to the lipid and protein components can be inferred from the spectroscopic changes observed and correlated with the corresponding decay processes observed for the cadaver. This study demonstrated that the use of this non-destructive technique allows the components of the decomposition fluid produced by decaying remains to be simultaneously monitored over time.
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