University of Leicester
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The use of radio-isotopes in forensic science : the development of the isotope fingerprint anaysis

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:30 authored by Benjamin Swift
It is generally accepted that remains should be no more than 75 years old to warrant police interest. Therefore any reliable dating method should distinguish bones from within this interval accurately from those lying outside of it. Although archaeologists have reliable tools for dating material, pathologists have been unable to devise a method that caters for their specific needs. Previous work has focused upon the physiochemical properties of bone or its organic constituents, though the results have failed to produce a workable calibration system. The first hypothesis of this thesis has confirmed the existence of a predictable and measurable relationship between specific radioisotope concentrations in human bone and the post-mortem interval (PMI). It is predicted that the relationship is such that, once a calibration system has been created, it is possible to accurately estimate the PMI in a set of remains of unknown antiquity. Though concentrating upon 210Pb activities, the study also evaluated additional commonly occurring nuclides, both natural and man-made, the latter being subsequent to nuclear experimentation. The second confirmed hypothesis is that the geographical region an individual lived within becomes imprinted within their skeletal system, such that recognisable relationships between isotopes exist, creating a radio-isotope fingerprint. Examination of these relationships allows identification of the country in which a decedent lived.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • MD



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