November 6, 2008
Washing Away Crime
Spanish researchers made an alarming discovery that new and improved cleaning products have the ability to wash away bloodstains making them invisible to forensic tests in murder cases.
University of Valencia researchers found new washing powders and other chemicals that create oxygen erase traces of hemoglobin, which is the protein inside blood that transports oxygen around the body.
Police investigators frequently use blood-splattered clothing to link a suspect to a crime.
In the past, forensic experts have been able to identify blood using a cocktail of chemicals to unmask the stains, even after ten washes.
However, according to the study published in the German journal Naturwissenschaften and reported in the New Scientist, new detergents like Reckitt Benckiser's 'Vanish' degrade blood even though the stain may remain visible to the naked eye.
Fernando Verdu, a forensic scientist at the University of Valencia, said his researchers are planning to investigate if the new oxygen-producing chemicals also destroyed DNA, another vital link of evidence used in murder investigations.
"The majority of criminals are not that smart. They don't do things as you expect them to and read this kind of news. It is very simple to commit a crime, the difficult part is to not get caught," said Verdu.
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