The luminol test is routinely used in forensic serology to locate blood traces and identify blood stains not visible to the naked eye; its sensitivity is reported as ranging from 1:100.000 to 1:5.000.000. To evaluate the possibility of correlating the post-mortem interval with blood remnants in bone tissue, the luminol test was performed on 80 femurs with a known time of death, grouped in five classes. Powdered bone (30 mg) was recovered from compact tissue of the mid-shaft of each femur and was treated with 0.1 mL of Luminol solution (Sirchie Finger Print Laboratories, Inc.). The reactions were observed in a dark room and filmed by a TV camera equipped with a recording tape. An intense chemiluminescence was observed after a few seconds in all 20 femurs with a PMI ranging from 1 month to 3 years. On the 20 femurs with a PMI ranging from 10–15 years, a clear chemiluminescence was visible with the naked eye in 80% of the sample. Among the 20 femurs with a PMI ranging from 25 to 35 years, a weaker chemiluminescence appeared in 7 femurs (33% of the sample). In the 10 femurs with a PMI ranging from 50 to 60 years, a faint reaction was observed only in a single femur. In none of the ten femurs with a PMI over 80 years was chemiluminescence observed. The image of each reaction was computerized and analyzed for gray scale. The results of image analysis show a possible quantitative relationship between the PMI and luminol chemiluminescence in powdered bone.
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