Terri Armenta/Forensic Training Unlimited

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Hair Analysis

Hair Analysis in Forensic Science

Hair analysis is the process by which hair is analyzed to find out things about the person it came from. In hair analysis, generally, the more hair that is available for analysis, the better the results will be. Typically, the best samples for analysis include somewhere around 50 strands of hair. This may sound like a lot of hair; however, most people have close to 100,000 strands of hair on their heads. The best results are also often received when the hair strands are taken from the back of the head versus the sides or the front.

The hair can be analyzed by determining the chemical makeup of the hair or extracting DNA from the hair follicle. Hair can also be analyzed through the use of a microscope or by simply comparing two or more hairs against one another. This process can be done for a number of reasons, including drug testing, paternity testing, medical testing, or even for the purpose of solving a crime. The ability to analyze hair is extremely important in the field of forensic science, as it can answer questions that no other evidence may be able to. For instance, if a person were poisoned, traces of the poison may be found within hair samples long after the poison has left organs within the body. Hair analysis is also a very helpful process in locating and eliminating suspects in crimes. Crime scene investigators are usually responsible for collecting hair samples at crime scenes to be analyzed later in the hopes of solving a crime.

While a hair sample alone may not be enough to solve a case, it is often a good place to start and finish. Hair samples can give an excellent lead in an investigation, as they can tell investigators a hair color, a specific race, whether or not the hair has been dyed, and, in some cases, a particular hair style. These matters may not seem important when it comes to crime, but it often helps investigators develop an idea of the basic features of a suspect. At the end of an investigation, it can also be very useful as further evidence to confirm or deny that a particular individual was at a crime scene during the time of the crime. Without hair analysis in forensic science, it would be difficult to answer many questions, as there would be no solid scientific proof.

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