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Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Nov 30;223(1-3):87-90. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.08.007. Epub 2012 Sep 16.

Detection of metal residues on bone using SEM-EDS. Part I: Blunt force injury.

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LABANOF, Laboratorio di Antropologia e Odontologia Forense, Sezione di Medicina Legale, Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche per la Salute, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.


Previous studies have indicated that metal particles remain on bone after sharp force injury or gunshot and that their detection by scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS) could greatly help in tool identification. However, the presence of metal particles on bone surfaces in the context of blunt force trauma has never been assessed experimentally. For this reason the present paper represents an experimental study of the behaviour of metal residues on bone following blunt force injury. Ten fresh sub-adult bovine metatarsal bones were manually cleaned of soft tissues. They were then struck by metal bars (copper, iron or aluminium) on the external surface of the mid-diaphysis. All blunt metal instruments used in this study left a sign in the form of single particles, a smear or a powder-like deposit on the bone surface. The residues of all three metal implements were detected on the bone surface, 0.3-10 mm from the fracture border. The presence of metal particles was confirmed in all samples struck with iron and copper and in two of six aluminium samples; no particles were detected on the negative control. Chemical composition of residues highly corresponded with the composition of applied bars.

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