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Dust: The Future of DNA Evidence

Written by: Alan Baker 20th November, 2023

In the United Kingdom, humans consistently release deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) into the surrounding environment. This DNA can either remain suspended in the air or settle onto surfaces as indoor dust.

The Study

A study investigated the potential use of human DNA recovered from air and dust to examine crimes where visible traces are unavailable, such as in a recently vacated drug factory where multiple workers were present.

Samples were collected from three indoor locations (offices, meeting rooms, and laboratories) with different occupancy types and cleaning regimes.

The resulting DNA profiles were compared to the reference profiles of 55 occupants of the premises.


Findings indicate that indoor dust samples are abundant sources of DNA, providing a historical record of occupants within the specific collection locality.

Detectable levels of DNA were also observed in air and dust samples from ultra-clean forensic laboratories, posing a potential risk of contaminating casework samples.

The results of the study suggest that air and dust could emerge as innovative sources of DNA evidence for identifying current and past occupants of a crime scene.



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