Chemical Signatures On Cell Phone Cases Identify Lifestyle

Molecular hints of our cosmetic products, food choices, and medications persist on our cell phones and other personal effects—even months after we’ve used them.
 

Joshua A. Krisch
Nov 16, 2016
PIXABAY, EDARCell phone cases are the silent witnesses to the foods we eat and the chemicals we touch, according to a November 14 study published in PNAS. Researchers have found The researchers report that molecular signatures found on cell phone cases could pinpoint the personal habits of 39 volunteers, down to their skincare products, diet choices, and medications.
 
“You can imagine a scenario where a crime scene investigator comes across a personal object—like a phone, pen or key—without fingerprints or DNA,” coauthor Pieter Dorrestein of the University of California, San Diego, said in a press statement. “So we thought—what if we take advantage of left-behind skin chemistry to tell us what kind of lifestyle this person has?”
 
In a 2015 study, Dorrenstein and colleagues demonstrated that the molecular components of cosmetic products remain prevalent on our skin, even days after we’ve stopped using them. Piggybacking...
 
They were also able to detect some personal habits: whether the cell phone owner was a coffee or tea drinker, whether he or she used anti-depressants or bug spray creams, and whether he or she had recently eaten spicy food. The study—which is due to continue with examinations of the wallets and keys of an additional 80 individuals, according to the press release—could be a boon for law enforcement officials, and useful for monitoring public health and environmental pollutants.   

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Chemical Signatures On Cell Phone Cases Identify Lifestyle

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