Applying a new method makes it possible to use a single fingerprint (for example at a crime scene) to determine if someone has touched or ingested drugs.
In a article published in the journal Analyst of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a team of researchers reveals how it was able to identify the differences between the fingerprints of people who have touched cocaine versus those who have ingested the drug, even if their hands are not washed. The intelligent science behind progress is there mass spectrometry applied to the detection of cocaine and its metabolites in fingerprints.
The crime scene and a fingerprint can say a lot more
The result is a step up from the research conducted by the same team in 2020. At that time the researchers were able to determine the difference between who had ingested the drug and who had only handled it. But the hands had to be well washed: and I doubt that at the scene of a crime anyone would wash their hands before leaving footprints. Either they leave them, or they don't. If they do today, a single fingerprint will be enough to reveal this detail as well.
With these techniques, in summary, both cocaine and its main metabolite, the benzoylecgonine. In one case the drug is detected, in the other the effects of its intake.
Dr. Melanie Bailey, forensic criminology expert, said: "Over the decades, fingerprinting technology has provided forensics with a wealth of information on gender and drugs. Now, these new discoveries will provide even more information.
Breakthrough for forensic science
In forensic science it is important to be able to understand more about the circumstances under which a fingerprint was left. The new research shows this is possible for the first time using high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques. It is clear that this new technique will be important for forensic science in the future.
Who knows if one day there will also be portable devices supplied to the police forces to instantly detect such circumstances, for example in those who drive.