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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 156-161

Soil pH effect on bone degradation: Implications in forensic investigation

1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
2 Department of Human Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medical Sciences, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Clinton David Orupabo
Department of Human Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Rivers State University, PMB 5080, Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, Port Harcourt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/abhs.abhs_10_22

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Background: Skeletal remains have become the mainstay in forensic investigations. Hence, it is imperative to study bone degradation and some influencers as to guide forensic practices. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of soil pH on bone degradation. Methods: One-centimeter diameter sections of the mid-shaft of the femur of a male cadaver were buried for the duration of 6 weeks in soils of different pH: 2.98 for the acidic soil, 7.10 for the neutral soil, and 11.58 for the alkaline soil. Histological sections of the exhumed bones were prepared using Frost’s rapid manual method. Four fields of view at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions were obtained for each section. Results: Quantitative analysis showed that there was a reduction in the mean Haversian canal area (HCA) and Haversian canal diameter (HCD) in the samples of bone fragments buried in the acidic and alkaline soil when compared with control. The acidic soil sample showed a mean HCA and HCD of 130.58 μm and 12.24 μm as against 136.83 μm and 12.48 μm of the control, whereas the alkaline soil sample showed a mean HCA and HCD of 122.70 μm and 11.70 μm, respectively. Statistical analysis showed a significant difference in the HCA and HCD (P ≤ 0.05). Conclusion: The result of this study suggests that the extreme of soil pH can cause the weathering of bone, which can distort the histomorphometry. The study focused on the extremes of pH and not various scales. This should help guide forensic investigations.

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