Volume 49, Issue 6 (November 2004)
A Comparison Study of Hair Examination Methodologies
A study was conducted to investigate the accuracy between two methods of hair analysis: PCR-STR DNA analysis and microscopic comparison analysis. Standard sets of pubic hairs were collected from volunteers, and unknown sets were generated from these samples. Three out of five (60%) of the hairs analyzed produced full DNA profiles that were correctly matched to the standard sets. DNA analysis was inconclusive (partial or no DNA profile) for two out of five (40%) of the samples. In contrast, the microscopic comparison analysis correctly matched four out of five (80%) of the samples to the standard sets but mis-identified one out of five (20%) of the samples. These results reinforce the practice of preliminary microscopic hair examination in narrowing down a set of hairs for DNA analysis. Microscopic comparison analysis is sufficiently reliable to remain a rapid and inexpensive method for forensic hair analysis.