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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136876 Find in a Library
Title: Scanning Electron Microscopy: Application in the Identification of Diatoms in Cases of Drowning
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:37  Issue:3  Dated:(May 1992)  Pages:860-866
Author(s): J V Pachar; J M Cameron
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 7
Type: Report (Technical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A simple and rapid method is described for processing organ and water samples for the identification of diatoms so that they can be studied and recorded for taxonomic and diagnostic purposes in cases of drowning.
Abstract: Samples of water from the site where the body was found or where the immersion probably occurred are collected in clean containers and isolated from extraneous detritus by overnight sedimentation. The gross volume is carefully decanted, the remainder is centrifuged, and the deposit is examined under dark-field microscopy to determine if diatoms are present. For taxonomic purposes, the desired end product for scanning electron microscopy is a dried sample without artifacts. Diatoms possess a solid exoskeleton, do not require fixation, and are sufficiently strong to tolerate air drying. The presence of the same species of diatoms in the water sample and in organs other than the lungs is considered indicative of drowning. The scanning electron microscopy method does not alter the morphology of diatoms and allows the study of fresh and sea water species present in the organs of bodies found in the water. The method facilitates the diagnosis of drowning under specific conditions. 26 references and 4 figures (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Diatom analysis
Index Term(s): Death investigations; Electron microscopy; Forensic medicine
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