Aerosol production during autopsies: The risk of sawing in bone

Jip M.E. Pluim, Lucas Jimenez-Bou, Reza R.R. Gerretsen, Arjo J. Loeve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


When sawing during autopsies on human remains, fine dust is produced, which consists of particles of sizes that may fall within the human respirable range, and can act as vectors for pathogens. The goal of this study was to explore the potential effects of saw blade frequency and saw blade contact load on the number and size of airborne bone particles produced. The methodology involved the use of an oscillating saw with variable saw blade frequencies and different saw blade contact loads on dry human femora. Released airborne particles were counted per diameter by a particle counter inside a closed and controlled environment. Results corroborated with the hypotheses: higher frequencies or lower contact loads resulted in higher numbers of aerosol particles produced. However, it was found that even in the best-case scenario tested on dry bone, the number of aerosol particles produced was still high enough to provide a potential health risk to the forensic practitioners. Protective breathing gear such as respirators and biosafety protocols are recommended to be put into practice to protect forensic practitioners from acquiring pathologies, or from other biological hazards when performing autopsies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-267
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Aerosol
  • Autopsy
  • Biosafety
  • Bone dust
  • Oscillating saw
  • Pathology

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