DPAA using Isotopes as a way to identify remains of U.S. Service Members

Data pix.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., -  More than 81,000 Americans are still unaccounted for in global conflicts. More than 1,700 of those are Hoosiers.  The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency believes out of those 81,000, 39,000 are recoverable.

We sat down exclusively with the head of the DPAA who told us it's a race against time and degrading DNA to identify any remains recovered. However, the agency is constantly working to find new ways to do so.

"So isotopes is a relatively mature science, what it is, is when you grow up, what you eat and what you drink puts markers into your bones, and those markers whether they be carbon, nitrogen, oxygen or even heavy metals like strontium remain with you for a long time. Because of isotopic mapping our scientists are able to determine if, did you grow up with a diet high in corn or did you grow up with a diet high in wheat." Said DPAA Director, Kelly McKeague.

Isotope mapping allows scientists to determine a specific area of the world, even country or state if needed to narrow down the search. This especially helps when they receive boxes of remains containing more than one person. Another method they use, clavicle matching, because your clavicle is just as unique as your finger print.

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