Serology? What is serology? How do Forensic Scientists use serology? Serology is the study of blood, blood serum, saliva, semen, and other bodily fluids. However the reason that this became a discipline of Forensic Science is because forensic scientists can use the DNA found from the different assortments of bodily fluids in order to narrow down and eliminate possible suspects. Forensic Serology is the study of serology in the relation to crimes and other legal matters, using a biological approach to the law and crime investigation. Forensic serologists mostly work on homicides, rapes, and assaults, as well as paternity disputes. Forensic scientists in the field of serology usually have a bachelor’s degree and work for law enforcement agencies or crime laboratories. Their work can include working on homicides in order to distinguish the different blood samples, or working on a sexual assault case in order to determine if the sexual intercourse that occurred was consensual or non-consensual. When analyzing bodily fluids serologists use the proteins secreted by people’s bodily fluids to test and confirm the fluid samples composition. However if there is a person who does not secrete these proteins, which a small percentage of people do not, it can make it difficult for serologists to analyze the different bodily fluids. This then goes into play of how accurate tests can be in order to determine the legal “accuracy” of these tests, which in turn help determine how to properly accuse and convict the correct person. If evidence cannot be proven to come from any person, than it is impossible to convict anybody because of the “innocent until proven guilty” law. Serology can be split into two categories; these categories of investigation include both Presumptive test and Confirmatory tests. When analyzing different types of bodily fluids it is important to realize and know the differences between the two tests that can be conducted on bodily fluids. In most cases, when analyzing bodily fluids the two types of tests, as mentioned before, that can be conducted are preliminary tests and confirmatory tests. Under these two tests are a multitude of assorted tests that are used on each suspected bodily fluid in order to identify what it is and confirm that it is in fact the type of bodily fluid that it was suspected to be. The types of bodily fluid that forensic scientists are most concerned with however would be the person’s blood, saliva, and semen. There are some other types of bodily fluids that may be useful in helping to solve cases and disputes; however these three are typically the main ones that forensic scientists pay most attention to. When analyzing the different types of bodily fluids it is important to know the types of tests that can be conducted on the samples provided. The samples depend on a few factors; these would include but are not limited to, money, resources, time, or/and the actual bodily fluid that you are either trying to confirm or disprove. For instance, when analyzing blood if you can only conduct a preliminary test, the types of tests that would fall under this category would include the Phenolphthalein test, the Luminol test, and the light test. All of these tests can help to determine the presence of blood in a specified or suspected area or in a given sample of evidence. This confirming of blood’s presence is useful when at the scene of the crime because it is both fast and easy. However these tests can give false positives and become counter-productive, so it is important to know the false negatives that could possibly occur from these tests and the methods used on how to prevent the false negatives from occurring during tests. After detecting the presence of blood it is important to verify that the sample really is blood and if it is human blood, this is where the confirmatory tests come in. When conducting confirmatory tests there are three types of tests that can be conducted...
References: Gil Reavill G. R. (2007) Aftermath Inc. Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home.
New York Gotham Books, a Division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Sarah Rockley Olsen (2013) Serology – Blood and Other Bodily Fluids
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