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Science News - April 11, 2013

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Posted: April 11, 2013   4:05 PM

A crime lab in Arizona discovers potential problems with its blood alcohol testing equipment, researchers in Switzerland test “breath-prints”, Maine will use death investigators to overcome a lack of doctors, and more. Here is this week’s roundup of science news:
A crime lab in Arizona uncovered potential problems with its blood alcohol content (BAC) testing equipment. The lab has processed hundreds of drunken driving cases during the past four years, many of which could have been affected. The BAC equipment is using a software patch that violates lab protocol, resulting in repeatedly irregular data.
Researchers from Switzerland have found that individuals might have specific combinations of chemical reactions that affect their breath. Measuring and detecting these chemicals, could help identify a person by their “breathprint.”
Maine’s chief medical examiner supports a new bill that makes it possible to hire death investigators, rather than doctors, to collect evidence from the scene of death. The death investigators – emergency medical technicians, physician assistants, and the like – will allow the few doctors in the medical examiner system to perform autopsies and determine the cause and manner of death rather than collecting evidence in the field.
The Texas Forensic Science Commission filed their final report on a state crime lab scientist, revealing that there was a history of questionable work, almost one-third of which had to be corrected. Already a dozen convictions related to the scientist’s work have been overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Momentum is slowly building among legislators for a new Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) forensics laboratory that will be built on the Washburn University campus. With a DNA backlog that keeps growing, various university and KBI officials have garnered support for the new lab.

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