Friday, March 1, 2013

Hair - You Are What You Eat...and Drink




The scientific study of hair is called trichology and this field dates to the mid 1800s.  If you’re an avid researcher of forensics you’ll know that hair can tell an investigator a lot of things such as where the hair came from (animal or human), and if human, what part of the body it came from, the race of the person, and if the scenario is just right DNA.

But did you know scientists are working on the connection between hair and diet and environmental factors?   It turns out you are what you eat to the tips of your hair.

Scientists have discovered that with animals everything they eat and drink is recorded in their tissues and this includes their hair.  With water, for example, it reasons that chemical elements come in different forms and concentrations depending on where the water comes from.
“The hair becomes a linear tape recorder,” says Ehleringer. “So it tells us a little story about the history of what an animal was eating or drinking.” 
Researchers have mapped out the US to account for  different isotopes in tap water.
“With this information, it is possible to examine a single strand of hair, compare it to the map, and get a pretty good idea of where someone was when that hair grew. And by looking at how the isotopes change along the length of the hair, scientists can determine if someone has traveled.”
No doubt you can see just from this overview how this study will benefit the solving of crime, and it could be an interesting element to incorporate into a novel.

For more information, see this article hereIt’s an interesting bit of reading.