Interpretation of fibre evidence at activity level requires extensive knowledge of all the possible transfer mechanisms that may explain the presence of fibres on a recipient surface of interest. Herein, we investigate a transfer method that has been largely understudied in previous literature: contactless transfer between garments through airborne travel. Volunteers were asked to wear UV-luminescent garments composed of different textile materials and situate themselves in a semi-enclosed space (elevator) for a pre-determined period of time with other participants, who wore non-luminescent recipient garments. The latter were then inspected for fibres using UV-luminescent photographic techniques. Results showed that contactless transfer between garments is possible. Indeed, a number of fibres were observed after most of the experiments. As many as 66 and 38 fibres were observed in the experiments involving cotton and polyester donor garments, compared to 2 and 1 fibres in those involving acrylic and wool donor garments, respectively. In this regard, the type of donor garment was found to be a significant factor. Multifactorial ANOVA supported these observations (p < 0.001) and further indicated a statistically significant influence of elevator door opening/closing (p < 0.001), people entering/exiting (p = 0.078) and the recipient garment (p = 0.030). Therefore, contactless transfer of fibres between garments can occur and can do so in (ostensibly) high numbers. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting fibre evidence at activity level and may have a major implication for the assignment of evidential values in some specific cases.
- Textile fibres