Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
4 minute read
9 Nov 2020
4:30 pm

Using nature as a crime fighting tool is nothing to sneeze at

Nica Richards

Pollen grains are incorruptible pieces of evidence that can stay at the crime scene longer after the fact, and are fast advancing forensic investigating.

Dr Berman analysing pollen in a laboratory. Palynology uses pollen to determine a host of factors not always obvious in crime scene investigations. Photo: Supplied

For many people pollen is nothing but the signifier of a sneezy summer season and hay fever, but for forensic investigators it has now become an unlikely crime fighting tool, which could help determine what happened when a crime was committed.  This branch of forensic science is called palynology, and it uses pollen to determine a host of factors not always obvious in crime scene investigations.  One of South Africa’s handful of pollen analysts, based at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Lung Institute, is Dr Dilys Berman, who said the future is bright for this field, but that more...