This article was downloaded by: [184.108.40.206] On: 05 February 2015, At: 10:42 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vzeh20
Occupational Exposure to Elemental Constituents in Fingerprint Powders a
Dr. C. Van Netten M.Sc., Ph.D. , K. E. Teschke M.P.H., C.I.H. & F. Souter M.H.Sc.
Health Care and Epidemiology , University of British Columbia , Mather Building, Vancouver, B.C. b
Field Ambulance , Canadian Forces Base Calgary Calgary , Alberta, Canada Published online: 03 Aug 2010.
To cite this article: Dr. C. Van Netten M.Sc., Ph.D. , K. E. Teschke M.P.H., C.I.H. & F. Souter M.H.Sc. (1990) Occupational Exposure to Elemental Constituents in Fingerprint Powders, Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, 45:2, 123-127, DOI: 10.1080/00039896.1990.9935936 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00039896.1990.9935936
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Occupational Exposure to Elemental Constituents
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in Fingerprint Powders
C. VAN NETTEN, M.Sc., Ph.D. K. E. TEXHKE, M.P.H., C.I.H. Health Care and Epidemiology University of British Columbia Mather Building Vancouver, B.C.
F. SOUTER, M.H.Sc. Field Ambulance Canadian Forces Base Calgary Calgary, Alberta Canada
ABSTRACT. Fingerprint detection is an essential component of any crime detection agency. Little information is available regarding the elemental constituents of powders that are available currently. One recent case of lead poisoning coupled with many complaints from the Vancouver identification Squad members initiated a study regarding the elemental composition of, and the occupational exposure to, these powders. Multi-elemental analysis of the powders investigated showed that all contained varying amounts of aluminum, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and nickel. One powder, however, contained 41 % lead. The time spent at the scene of crime during a normal working shift averaged 95.5 min. Assessment of inhalation exposure during this period by personal air sampling pumps never exceeded the occupational exposure standards for these elements. Secondary exposure from dust-contaminated police vehicles and clothing can be an important contributor t o overall exposure.
OVER THE YEARS many different approaches have been employed to develop fingerprints so that they can be visualized and compared. These methods range from those suggested by Aubert in 1877 using silver nitrate, to the use of radioactive tracers and neutron activation analysis for auto radiographic analysis.’ Of these methods, powder development of fingerprints i s the most commonly used in the field today,’ mainly because it is highly portable and can be used at the scene of crime, especially when objects of interest cannot be transported to the laboratory. These powders vary in their constituents, and some have been known to contain toxic components. For instance, reference is made in one of the review articles2 to a powder composed of a mixture of ground chalk March/April 1990 [Vol. 45 (No.2)]
and mercury applied with a camel hair brush. The use of this mixture was discontinued when its toxicity became apparent. Nevertheless, mercury derivatives were, until recently, a common ingredient in some of the fingerprint powders that are available commekially. Lead compounds appear to be a common ingredient in some powders currently in use and have been related to a recent case of lead poisoning in a Danish use of lead-containing powders police ~ f f i c e r .The ~ have also been specified for a highly specific technique that uses an x-ray beam to produce an image of a fingerprint on a photographic film.’ Other metallic constituents are apparent in some powders, i.e., aluminum and iron in magnetic powders. Additional subsequent analyses of fingerprint powders have identified the 123
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urements of the extent of exposures to fingerprint powders under normal work conditions, and consequently no relationship could be drawn between the incidence of disease and levels of exposures. Similarly, no information is given regarding secondary exposure to these powders by individuals who used these powders and consequently contamined their work environment, e.g., police vehicles. Previous exposure estimates that were based on a laboratory simulation4 appear inapDropriate regarding personnel exposure. It is the intent of this study to monitor the inhalation exposure of identification squad members to elemental constituents of fingerprint powder dusts during normal work activities. These activities include time spent at the scene of the crime (SOC) and in the laboratory when active dusting occurs, i.e., primary exposure, and time spent when dusting does not occur, such as during transit and in the office environment, i.e., secondary exposure. It is not the intent of this communication to delineate any relationship between exposure and disease incidence. This will be addressed separately in an epidemiological study.
presence of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Because many of these compounds are known cancercausing agents, the use of some of these powders has apparentIy been di scont i nued. 4 The individuals using these powders are generally not aware of their constituents because the material safety data sheets (MSDS) supplied by the manufacturer are lacking the necessary detail or are almost impossible to obtain. This lack of useful information has raised the concern of the Vancouver Police Department, especially because anecdotal information claimed a high incidence of glaucoma, a disease with no known chemical origin, and a high mortality among Identification Squad members. Similar concern by the police force in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, initiated a study' involving 22 individuals. This study concluded that although cancer of the large intestine was apparent in police detectives, the limited number of subjects would not allow a conclusion about whether the incidence of this disease among officers was related to occupational exposure. Another study that involved the Baltimore County Police Department Crime Lab~ratory,~ which studied 91 death certificates, concluded that there was a statistically significant excess of large intestinal cancer in these police officers. There was also a nonstatistically significant association between respiratory tract cancers and individuals who had worked in the crime laboratory. Again, because of the relatively low numbers in this particular study, firm conclusions could not be drawn. None of the studies cited above included meas-
Table 1 .-Elemental
Element Aluminum Antimony Arsenic Barium Beryllium Cad m ium Calcium C hrom ium Cobalt Copper Iron Lead Magnesium Manganese Mercury Molybdenum Nickel Phosphorus Selenium Silver Strontium Vanadium Zinc
Materials and methods Inhalation exposures of identification squad personnel were measured using portable SKC air sampling pumps in series with 37-mm cellulose ester filters in cassettes, which were fastened in the breathing zones of the subjects. The pumps were calibrated to run at a
Constituents of Bulk Samples of Fingerprint Powders Atomic Brand silver