Characterization of Polymeric Materials for Evidence

ASTM International’s forensic sciences committee (E30) is developing a proposed standard to guide laboratories that characterize or compare polymeric materials, such as fiber, paint, or tape forensic evidence.

“The proposed standard enables forensic laboratories to develop a technical procedure that allows flexibility to use or purchase their equipment of choice, while adhering to internal quality control mandates, as well as that of an accrediting body that may also govern their work processes and products,” says ASTM International member Diana Wright. 

The technique described in the proposed standard can distinguish between sub-classes of common polymers, such as types of acrylic, using small amounts of material. Because the technique is destructive, it is not used as frequently as other techniques when sample size is limited. 

The proposed standard (WK75180) originates from a guide developed by the Trace Materials Subcommittee of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC).

Wright notes that this proposed guide covers the forensic analysis of mass-produced manufactured materials, so all interested parties that have a working familiarity with processes and starting materials used in product production are encouraged to participate in the development of the standard. The committee would also like to hear from those who have knowledge of how the final products are constructed and how they might differ between various manufacturers.

ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member of ASTM.

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