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Water-Based Beverages Leave Chemical Imprint That Might Help Crime Solving

June 30, 2010: 09:17 AM EST
Consuming a locally-made beverage leaves a chemical imprint in a person’s hair that is traceable to specific geographic locations, and can be used to track movement from place to place, according to new research that analyzed water from 33 U.S. cities. This is possible because the human body integrates hydrogen and water molecules with proteins, including hair proteins. Varying proportions of different forms of hydrogen and oxygen – known as isotopes – are predictable geographically, such as low-latitude, low-elevation, coastal regions, etc. Local or regional water sources are used to produce many beverages, so isotope patterns in hair could act as a chemical "fingerprint" to pin down where a person has been. The researchers believe the finding could help trace drink origins or help criminal investigations through hair strand analysis.
Lesley Chesson, et al., " Links between Purchase Location and Stable Isotope Ratios of Bottled Water, Soda, and Beer in the United States", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 30, 2010, © American Chemical Society
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