Technology finds bodies in disasters

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they are working to develop the first portable device that can detect human bodies buried in disasters and at crime scenes.

Pennsylvania State University forensic scientists Dan Sykes and Sarah Jones said they are creating a profile of the chemicals released from decomposing bodies. Such a profile could lead to an electronic device designed to determine the time elapsed since death in a quick and accurate manner, they said.

Cadaver dogs now are used to detect and recover bodies in earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. "These dogs are highly effective, but it takes a lot of time, money, and manpower to train them," said Sykes, a senior lecturer. "A device that is as effective as dogs, but is a fraction of the cost, would be something worth pursuing."

Jones, a graduate student, added, "What we're looking for is the profile of what gases are released when we die, as well as how the environment and the manner in which we die affects this profile."

The research was presented Sunday in Washington during the fall national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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