Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., have recently detected the presence of human DNA in household dust. These findings, which where reported in Forensic Science International, revealed for the first time that human DNA could be detected in dust and measured. Scientist gathered 36 dust samples from eight locations around the university’s campus. Forensic DNA testing yielded human DNA from all but one sample. While the amount of DNA that was recovered was miniscule—only about ten of micrograms of total DNA per gram of dust– there was sufficient biological material needed for amplification and forensic DNA profiling. Researchers could not, however, pinpoint one person’s individual DNA profile because the results produced overlapping signals from numerous people. The team hopes that as forensic DNA analysis progresses, technology will become more advanced and will eventually solve the problem of pinpointing a particular persons DNA profile.
This new discovery could assist law enforcement officials in arresting and charging an offender by using the presence of their DNA to prove that they were present at a crime scene. This type of DNA evidence sample may even be able to tell investigators how long it has been since the suspect was at the crime seen based off of the decay of their DNA.
For now though, as a result of technology restraints, researchers are not sure when this new type of forensic testing will be available, or if it will even be useful to law enforcement officials.