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Are your hands clean? Pollen retention on the human hand after washing

Hunt, CO and Morawska, Z (2020) Are your hands clean? Pollen retention on the human hand after washing. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 280. ISSN 0034-6667

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Pollen retention on clothes, footwear, hair and body has been used to link people to localities with distinctive vegetation, or soils containing distinctive palynomorphs. Little attention has been given to human skin as a possible medium for carrying a forensically-important pollen load and whether this might survive attempts to remove it. We report here the results of experiments testing the retention of pollen of ten flowering plant species on the human skin through repeated cycles of washing and drying hands, using the WHO protocol to standardise hand-washing and drying. Between 0.36% and 2.74% (mean 0.93%) of the initial pollen load was retained through a single hand-wash. Trace amounts of some species survived multiple hand-wash cycles. It is concluded that forensic analyses can be made of the pollen load of those parts of the skin that may have been in contact with palynologically-distinctive vegetation, even in cases where the person involved has washed, or been washed. These observations may also be of relevance in cases where human skin became contaminated with other microscopic particulates.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0403 Geology
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
Q Science > QR Microbiology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2020 08:56
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 14:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2020.104278
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13210
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