Defining the "composition of fingerprint sweat"

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I read your article, “Beyond Identification,” in the March-April 2012 issue of Evidence Technology Magazine, and found it very interesting; however, I had to take a slight exception with Dr. Paul Yates’ statement, “Nobody has looked at fingerprint sweat and made a definitive map of what is in there.” One only needs to go to Chapter 7, “Latent Print Development,” in the Fingerprint Sourcebook to find reference to many studies on fingerprint residue and the composition of sweat.

Carl J. Carlson, Supervisor III
Fingerprint Identification Section
Regional Criminalistics Division
Kansas City Police Department


Dr. Paul Yates, business development manager for Intelligent Fingerprinting, responds:

Thank you for your letter. I think the confusion has arisen in the way that my comment has been interpreted. What I meant by the statement was that no one has mapped the full possible range of metabolites that could be secreted in fingerprint sweat. As indicated by the wealth of scientific literature, Mr. Carlson is correct that the chemical composition of the sweat itself is well understood; however, we still do not know the full range of potential metabolites that could be detected as a result of what the individual has ingested or come into intimate contact with, or other biochemical markers that might be present that will vary from person to person depending on their state of health.


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