A Study on Determining the Effect of Acid on Bones

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Nikhitha Jose, Kezia Ann Varghese, Sruthy Venugopal, Danie Kingsley


Forensic experts have developed their own method for determining how corrosive chemicals like sulphuric acid, nitric acid harm bone. Dissolving bodies is a contemporary method of disposing human remains and has been practiced throughout the years. In popular media, criminals attempt to dispose of their victims by using various chemicals to dissolve the corpses.This research investigates the effects of sulphuric acid and nitric acid on bones by using an animal analogue (chicken, Gallus domesticus). Over time, the appearance, consistency of all specimens was documented and presence of protein was identified from the acid treated bone sample. This study shows a comparison between the effects of both the acids in degradation of bones. Acids catalyze hydrolysis reactions when they come in contact with bone, more the ions in solution, faster will be the reaction. In case of sulphuric acid the degradation of bones takes time as it is a slow process. The protein can be extracted from the residue of bone present in the sample. Whereas in case of nitric acid the bone sample gets completely dissolved without leaving any trace. Therefore no protein or DNA can be extracted from the sample, which makes it difficult in the identification of the victim.

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