Aired: December 6, 2008

The Hair Detective

Your hair collects evidence that you really are what you eat! Environmental scientist Stephen Macko (University of Virginia) has analyzed hair to determine the dietary intake of the likes of George Washington, journalist Diane Sawyer, poet Edgar Allan Poe and even 4,000-year-old Egyptian mummies.  His scientific method tells if you’ve been ingesting an unusual amount of ice cream or cocaine.  Also: any gardener knows that nitrogen is a good thing for plants.  But environmental scientist James Galloway (University of Virginia) says a ‘cascade’  of accumulated nitrogen molecules from fertilizers and car emissions are now upsetting the natural balance of the ecosystem all the way from rivers and streams up to the stratosphere.

(photo credit: Robert Llewelyn)