WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) — People’s locations and movements could be tracked based on beverages they drank at a particular place, a U.S. study suggests.
Bottled water, soda, beer and other beverages contain natural chemical imprints that are unique to different locations, and that chemical imprint is left in a person’s hair and could be used to track movements over time, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says.
Study author Lesley Chesson says the body removes hydrogen and oxygen atoms from water and beverages containing water and incorporates them into proteins, including the protein in hair.
Hydrogen and oxygen exist in different forms or isotopes, the study says, and the proportions of those isotopes vary in a predictable way geographically.
Since manufacturers typically use local water sources in producing beverages, isotope patterns in hair could produce a chemical “fingerprint” to reveal the geographic region where a person has been, Chesson explained.
A person who consumes a beer or soda in Denver, Des Moines or Dallas would show a different isotope signature than a person drinking in Las Cruces, Las Vegas or Laramie, the study says.
Such a “signature” could allow criminal investigators to identify the geographic travels of crime suspects and other individuals through analysis of hair strands, the study suggests.
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