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Lead in teeth holds secrets of person's origins, research shows

Published on Jul 31, 2014 10:22 AM
 

ORLANDO (REUTERS) - The lead in human teeth holds clues about where a person grew up and can help criminal investigators and archeologists working with old or decomposed corpses, according to a University of Florida researcher.

Because lead ore deposits around the world differ, and as young people's teeth absorb traces of the metal in the environment, the region where a person grew up can be distinguished through lead analysis of a tooth, said geologist George Kamenov.

His study on the topic will appear in the August issue of Science of The Total Environment, a peer-reviewed journal. "If you were born in Europe and then came to the U.S., yes, I will be able to see that," Kamenov said. "I was born in Bulgaria so I have the European ... signal."

Kamenov said he has worked with law enforcement officers on cold cases, with lead analysis helping investigators narrow their focus.

 
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