The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science Standards Bulletin provides an update on forensic science standards that are moving through the Registry Approval Process at OSAC and those moving through the development process at standards developing organizations (SDOs).
The OSAC Standards Bulletin is organized to capture the following standard development phases in the OSAC Registry Approval and SDO processes:
After being published by an SDO, selected standards and guidelines may proceed to the OSAC Registry Approval Process where they are evaluated further for technical merit and impact on the forensic science community.
In the SDO process, OSAC committees or task groups submit an idea (i.e., work item), a partially drafted document, or a fully drafted document to an SDO for further development, commenting, and publishing.
Number of new standards placed on the OSAC Registry: None
Number of OSAC Registry Documents open for comment: None
The OSAC Registry serves as a trusted repository of high-quality, science-based standards and guidelines for forensic science practice. A document included on the Registry has progressed through the formal SDO process and has been published as a standard. OSAC elevates standards to the OSAC Registry as an endorsement of the document’s high quality and to encourage its adoption by relevant stakeholders in the forensic science community.
Standards Moving through the OSAC Registry Approval Process
The following standards have moved from one step in the OSAC Registry Approval process to another during the last month.
On January 6, 2020 the American Academy of Forensic Science Standards Board (ASB) published ANSI/ASB Standard 106, Wildlife Forensic-Protein Serology Method for Taxonomic Identification, First Edition, 2020. This document, initially developed by OSAC’s Wildlife Forensics Subcommittee and finalized by the ASB Wildlife Forensics Consensus Body, addresses the protocols required for general protein serology methods for taxonomic identification routinely used in the laboratory. This document also covers the use of quality controls (i.e., positive, negative and comparison samples) and the analysis of results if controls fail. Additionally, the document explains how differences in expressed proteins can be used to identify animals at family and/or species level using a suite of serology methods.
Comment Period Open on Draft Documents
Consider sharing your expertise by commenting on the following documents to ensure they are technically sound and aligned with the needs of the forensic science community.
ASB 098, Standard for Mass Spectral Data Acceptance in Forensic Toxicology. This standard provides criteria for the acceptance of mass spectral analyses of small molecules (compounds with an atomic weight of less than 800 Daltons) in laboratories conducting any of the following forensic toxicology subdisciplines: postmortem forensic toxicology, human performance toxicology (e.g., drug-facilitated crimes and driving-under-the-influence of alcohol or drugs), non-regulated employment drug testing, court-ordered toxicology (e.g., probation and parole, drug courts, child services), and general forensic toxicology (non-lethal poisonings or intoxications). This document also provides minimum requirements for acquiring data on single- or multiple-stage mass spectrometers using nominal or high-resolution mass spectrometers. Additionally, it provides instruction on the evaluation of mass spectral data when conducting acquisitions in full-scan mode, selected ion monitoring, multiple-stage analyses, or when using high-resolution mass analyzers. Comment deadline February 24, 2020.
ASB 113, Standard for Identification Criteria in Forensic Toxicology. This document sets minimum criteria, based on a point system, for the identification of an analyte during forensic toxicology testing. This document also provides a mechanism for laboratories to evaluate each analytical technique to determine if its testing regimen is sufficient to meet or exceed the minimum points required for identification. This document does not address identification of low molecular-weight analytes (e.g., ethanol, carbon monoxide, cyanide) or metals. Comment deadline February 24, 2020.
ASB 133, Standard for Age Estimation in Forensic Anthropology. Age is one of several biological parameters that can be estimated from skeletal material or radiographic images. This standard provides procedures for the estimation of age from skeletal material or radiographic images. It also includes the estimation of age-at-death from skeletal remains and can also be applied to skeletal development from living individuals. Specific methods and techniques are not included in the standard. Comment deadline February 24, 2020.
*Recirculation – ASB 053, Standard for Report Content in Forensic Toxicology. This document delineates the requirements for reporting results from forensic toxicology analyses. Specifically, it is intended for the sub-disciplines of human performance toxicology (e.g., driving- under-the-influence of alcohol or drugs and drug-facilitated crimes), postmortem forensic toxicology, non-regulated employment drug testing, court-ordered toxicology (e.g., probation and parole, drug courts, child services), and general forensic toxicology (e.g., non-lethal poisonings or intoxications). The document does not apply to the reporting of breath alcohol testing results. Comment deadline March 9, 2020.
*Recirculation – ASB 054, Standard for a Quality Control Program in Forensic Toxicology Laboratories. This document establishes minimum requirements for quality control practices in forensic toxicology laboratories. The document explains the importance of a quality control program, how to select and care for materials used to prepare quality control samples, proper preparation and use of calibrator and control samples, and requirements for their use in different types of assays. The document also provides direction for the review and monitoring of quality control data in forensic toxicology laboratories. This standard applies to laboratories performing forensic toxicological analysis in the following sub-disciplines: postmortem forensic toxicology, human performance toxicology (e.g., drug-facilitated crimes and driving under-the-influence of alcohol or drugs), non-regulated employment drug testing, court-ordered toxicology (e.g., probation and parole, drug courts, child services), and general forensic toxicology (non-lethal poisonings or intoxications). It is not intended for the area of breath alcohol toxicology. Comment deadline March 9, 2020.
ASB 026, Crime Scene/Death Investigation – Dogs and Sensors, Pre-Scented Canines – Aged Trail Search. This document provides the requirements for training, certification and documentation pertaining to pre-scented canine-aged track/trail search. Pre-scented canine aged trail searches use a canine team (canine and handler) to search for and follow aged trails of a specific person’s (target) scent over different surface types. An aged track/trail is a human scent pathway that has been present for some period, typically expressed with a time frame associated with the track/trail (e.g., a 24 hour or older track/trail). Comment deadline March 16, 2020.
WK71108 Practice for Quality Assurance of Forensic Science Service Providers Performing Forensic Chemistry Analyses. This practice discusses procedures for quality assurance of forensic science service providers performing forensic chemistry analyses and provides a framework of quality in the processing of evidence, including maintaining a quality management system; personnel duties, qualifications, training, education and professional development; facility considerations; evidence handling; analytical procedures; instrument and equipment performance; chemicals and reagents; casework documentation and reporting; proficiency and competency testing; method validation and verification; audits; deficiency of analysis; and documentation requirements. Comment deadline February 9, 2020.
WK71337 Guide for Forensic Examination and Comparison of Pressure Sensitive Tapes. This guide describes the construction and classification of various tapes and the methods to develop discriminatory information using an efficient order of testing. However, it is not intended as a detailed methods description or rigid scheme for the analysis and comparison of tapes, but as a guide to the strengths and limitations of each analytical method. Comment deadline February 9, 2020.
WK70035 Guide for Determination and Comparison of Color by Visual Observation in Forensic Soil Examination. The purpose of this document is to recommend best practices for describing the color of forensic soil/geologic material determined by visual assessment and comparison to a reference color chart. This document encompasses the human visual characterization of soil color in the Munsell color system and provides criteria in forensic soil comparisons to exclude that soils came from the same source. Characterization of color of forensic soils by instrumental methods is not within the scope of this guide. Comment deadline February 9, 2020.
The following documents are being initiated and are expected to result in a new or revised standard.
On January 24, 2020 a Project Initiation Notification System (PINS) was published on page 26 in the ANSI Standards Action. This will begin a 30-day period for public comment on the initiation of ASB’s work on the following document:
BSR/ASB Std 102-202x, Standard for Peer Review of Source Conclusions in Toolmark Examinations. This new document will provide the requirements for conducting peer reviews of source conclusions arising from forensic toolmark comparisons. This document is limited to the process of performing a quality check of the source conclusions reached by the primary firearm and toolmark examiner in a case and does not address or consider other types of technical casework review.
Contact Teresa Ambrosius (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on the proposed ASB documents or to submit your comments.
Attending the 2020 AAFS Annual Scientific Meeting in Anaheim, California?
If so, be sure to visit us at Booth #103 to learn more about the latest forensic science standards development activities and pick up an “OSAC Member” or “OSAC Affiliate” ribbon to decorate your AAFS Conference badge.
Thanks to comments from members of OSAC’s Odontology Subcommittee, The American Dental Association (ADA)is in the process of updating ADA Technical Report 1088-2017 Human Identification by Comparative Dental Analysis. The revision to this OSAC Registry Approved standard is just one example of OSAC’s contributions and positive impact and how OSAC and SDOs are working together to strengthen forensic science through the development and use of standards.