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J Forensic Sci. 2016 May;61(3):858-861. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13016. Epub 2015 Dec 31.

A Novel Forensic Investigation Applied to Bone Remains Exhumed near to Quirra Interforce Firing Range.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic and Clinical Medicine and of Public Health, Section of Pathology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Policlinico Hospital, I-41124, Modena (MO), Italy.
  • 2Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics, National Research Council, I-48018, Faenza (RA), Italy.
  • 3Nanodiagnostics srl, I-41057, San Vito di Spilamberto, Modena (MO), Italy.
  • 4Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Section of Hematology, Policlinico Hospital, I-41124, Modena (MO), Italy.


The need to implement novel techniques, able to support a causal link between exposure and pathology, has been emerged over the recent years. The application of scanning electron microscope coupled with probe X-ray microanalysis (by means of an energy-dispersive spectroscopy) has been developed by our research group for the bone remains investigation. It was aimed to testify the exposure to microsized and nanosized pollutions, due to military activities in the Quirra interforce firing range, of a Sardinian shepherd, died of acute leukemia. Metallic debris with a combustive morphology and with an oncogenic potential has been surely detected inside his bone marrow canal. This novel technique has proved to be able to bring to light a source of past exposure preserved over time within the bone marrow canal. It can be useful for postmortem analyses, delivering a new avant-garde approach to modern forensic science.


Quirra syndrome; bone remains; forensic science; leukemia; nanoparticles; osteology; probe X-ray microanalysis; scanning electron microscope; war pollutants

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