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The evaluation and validation of Phadebas® paper as a presumptive screening tool for saliva on forensic exhibits

Wornes, Danielle J., Speers, Samuel J., Murakami, Julie A.
Forensic science international 2018 v.288 pp. 81-88
alpha-amylase, blood, cross reaction, enzyme activity, forensic sciences, paper, porosity, saliva, screening, temperature, urine
The Phadebas® Forensic Press Test is routinely used for the detection of saliva. However, assessment of the use of Phadebas® paper for this purpose has not been studied extensively. The suitability of Phadebas® paper as a presumptive screening tool for saliva on forensic exhibits, was investigated by analysing the following: (1) sensitivity, (2) specificity, (3) effects of temperature on sensitivity and specificity, (4) detection of saliva in mixed body fluid samples, and (5) influence of substrate porosity. The results of this study demonstrated that Phadebas® paper is more sensitive to α-amylase activity and less specific for saliva than previously reported. The use of an examination temperature of 37°C had no effect on sensitivity, but increased the incidence of cross-reactivity with other forensically relevant body fluid stains. Blood, urine and vaginal secretions can inhibit the detection of α-amylase activity with Phadebas® paper in mixed stains of saliva and body fluid. Substrate porosity is a weak predictor for the time taken for a saliva stain to achieve a strong positive result on Phadebas® paper. Overall, this study demonstrated that the Phadebas® Forensic Press Test has limitations as a presumptive test for the accurate identification of saliva.