I have heard that there are different kinds of gloves used for crime scene processing; the common latex and cotton. Is it true that the most commonly used latex gloves can cause damage to prints and or transfer finger prints from one place to another, where cotton gloves cause no damage and can be used more then once?
It is my understanding that Latex gloves do allow the sweat to soak through them after you have worn them for an extended period time. Also after a while, your fingerprints can go through them. I have never heard of them "moving fingeprints around". They certainly could damage prints that are already on an object, so it is still very important to be carefull while handeling evidence that needs to be processed.
I have never used cotton gloves. I would be concerned about transferring my DNA at a scene, and also absorbing fluids and chemicals in to the gloves. I would also think they would get very dirty at a scene, and because of the body fluids and chemicals used at a scene, you would have to have several pairs at a scene, and then wash them frequently. And washing anything that has blood on it, requires that you have to decontaminate the washing machine that was used to clean up the blood. All that just seems to be to much trouble.
Some people will wear two sets of Latex gloves. Doulbling up prevents your prints and DNA from going through the gloves. I have been using Nitrile gloves for a couple of years. They are more expensive, but are more durable. I will actually put on Nitrile gloves, and then the latex gloves over them. I frequently need clean gloves at a scene, so it makes it easy to take the top layer gloves off, and then slip the new latex on over the old Nitrile set. If you were to take the pair off that comes in contact with your skin, your hands will be very sweaty. So keeping the main set on the whole time saves you the trouble of having to drying your hands repeatedly.
I wear latex gloves for work in extremely hot conditions and the kind that we use do not allow sweat to go through. They do not transfer prints from one place to another and they do not destroy latent fingerprint evidence. Improper handling of the evidence does that.
Also we do not use cotton gloves because of the possiblilty of cross contamination. If you are in a scene that requires you to pick up evidence that has biological evidence on it, semen, sweat, saliva, and you use those same gloves again at another scene you have contaminated evidence. You have transfered the semen, sweat, or saliva to another piece of evidence at another crime scene.
Locards exchange theory is what guides our crime scene investigations...Every contact leaves a trace.