Changes in the lipid composition of latent fingerprint residue with time after deposition on a surface

Nia E. Archer, Yannis Charles, Julia A. Elliott, Sue M. Jickells

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The work described in this report was focused on generating increased knowledge of fingerprint chemistry, particularly the composition of a latent fingerprint at the time it is deposited, and the chemical changes in lipid components that occur over time. Fingerprints from five male donors (aged 25-34 years) were collected and aged under controlled conditions. The prints were then sampled at set intervals, solvent extracted with dichloromethane, co-derivatized with MSTFA and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). It was shown that there was loss of squalene from prints stored in the light or in the dark. Loss was more rapid in the light, with squalene in prints from some donors not detected after 9 days storage. For these same donors, squalene was still detected after 33 days storage in the dark, but at much lower levels than in fresh prints. For saturated fatty acids (tetradecanoic, palmitic and stearic acid) there was a trend towards an increase in levels of these substances during storage (up to about 20 days) followed by a decrease back to original levels or below. This was the case for samples stored in the light or in the dark. For palmitoleic acid, a similar trend was seen. For oleic acid, this trend was seen for samples stored in the dark. For samples stored in the light the general trend was a decrease in level over the storage period (up to 33 days).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-239
Number of pages16
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2005


  • Ageing
  • Analysis
  • Cholesterol
  • Composition
  • Fatty acids
  • Fingerprints
  • Forensic science
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • Lipids
  • Squalene

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