Changes in the infrared spectra of bronchial epithelia in victims of fatal burns were investigated. The mechanism of spectral changes on the basis of cellular morphological changes was considered. The ability of spectral parameters to diagnose fatal burns was assessed. Ten cases of fatal burns and 20 control cases were selected. Their lung tissues were removed, and sections were cut and mounted on glass and barium fluoride slides. Spectra of polarized bronchial epithelia were obtained by microscopy based on their morphological changes. In the spectra, 16 major absorbance bands were evaluated to determine their ability to act as positive markers for exposure to fire. Compared with the control group, the bronchial epithelia of the fatal burn victims showed three spectral results. (1) The absorbance of 16 major bands from the spectra of polarized bronchial epithelia in fatal burn victims significantly increased. (2) For the same cell number, the absorbance at 2850, 2920, 2959, and 3084 cm<sup>−1</sup> decreased. (3) The degree of increased or decreased absorbance of bands is related to the degree of polarization. These spectral results suggest that there is a vital reaction induced by the inhalation of hot fumes that includes an increase in the number of bronchial epithelia and a polarization effect. Overall, Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy was shown to be a convenient and reliable method to provide objective spectral markers to assist the diagnosis of fatal burns by simultaneously monitoring several specific parameters, although these observations have yet to be applied at forensic scenes.

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