A study on contactless airborne transfer of textile fibres between different garments in small compact semi-enclosed spaces

Kelly Sheridan, Ray Palmer, Evelina Saltupyte, Matteo D. Gallidabino

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Interpretation of fibre evidence at activity level requires extensive knowledge of all the possible transfer mechanisms that may explain the presence of fibres on a recipient surface of interest. Herein, we investigate a transfer method that has been largely understudied in previous literature: contactless transfer between garments through airborne travel. Volunteers were asked to wear UV-luminescent garments composed of different textile materials and situate themselves in a semi-enclosed space (elevator) for a pre-determined period of time with other participants, who wore non-luminescent recipient garments. The latter were then inspected for fibres using UV-luminescent photographic techniques. Results showed that contactless transfer between garments is possible. Indeed, a number of fibres were observed after most of the experiments. As many as 66 and 38 fibres were observed in the experiments involving cotton and polyester donor garments, compared to 2 and 1 fibres in those involving acrylic and wool donor garments, respectively. In this regard, the type of donor garment was found to be a significant factor. Multifactorial ANOVA supported these observations (p < 0.001) and further indicated a statistically significant influence of elevator door opening/closing (p < 0.001), people entering/exiting (p = 0.078) and the recipient garment (p = 0.030). Therefore, contactless transfer of fibres between garments can occur and can do so in (ostensibly) high numbers. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting fibre evidence at activity level and may have a major implication for the assignment of evidential values in some specific cases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110432
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International
Volume315
Early online date14 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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