A Reddit post made a splash on the internet this week by claiming that the infamous, $ 30 "GamerGirl bath water" sold by social media star Belle Delphine did not contain any human DNA – so might not be his bath water at all. C & # 39; was promptly challenged by other Reddit users and debunked: The shipments of the said bath water had not even been sent yet. As the news of the non-scandal surfaced The edge In the offices, the journalists started with the science office with questions, including: "Wait, can you test the water in the tub to check his DNA?"
"Yes, you can," said Helen Page, forensic biologist. Page is a lecturer at the University of Teesside in the United Kingdom. You have actually studied how to recover very specific samples of DNA in a bath.
It's a serious job. Recovering DNA from a shower or bath can be helpful during a sexual assault investigation, especially if the victim does not want to undergo a medical examination. – complete uneven or does not take a shower after aggression. Page that you studied how to recover sperm specially designed mesh objects made to go in the shower drains, and "bath scrunchies"(Also known as sponges, loofahs or beanbags.) She discovered that one could pick up the DNA of the stitches, the scrunchies and also simply by wiping the walls, the base and the drain of a bathtub.
Page has shown that it is possible to recover the sperm DNA in the bath water, but the sperm is very different from other cells. "The structure of a sperm is quite resistant, as it was, to degrade in the same way that other cells would be," said Page. In Delphine's case, the most likely source of DNA would be skin that could come loose in the bathtub. Page's research was also conducted under controlled laboratory conditions. In the case of "GamerGirl Bathwater", without seeing the manufacturing process, it is really impossible to know how much of Delphine 's DNA was put in the water.
"It's hard to know how many cells were washing," says Page. She points out that if Delphine washed slightly, fewer skin cells would come off than if she washed more carefully. "I doubt very much that there is a huge amount of DNA in a small flask of bath water," said Page.
It is also not known how long the DNA would last in the bathwater. The main threats to the integrity of DNA are heat, moisture and bacteria, which are in abundance in the tanks. Soap and other cleaning products may also play a role in DNA degradation, but there is not enough scientific research to be sure.
Even if there is enough DNA in the water to test, and you have good laboratory equipment, and that it has not been degraded, an analysis could to allow a person to determine if the DNA is human or not, and not to know which human being bathed there. "You would not be able to say that it was his DNA if you did not have his DNA profile to compare." Said Page.
Of course, all this does is answer the question of whether people could – not they should – test a DNA in a small jar containing $ 30 of bath water. Why is it sold, however, is perfectly clear: as Patricia Hernandez notes to PolygonDelphine is known for her stunts worthy of performance.
Although Page points out that she would not spend her money on bath water, she understands why they might want to authenticate their purchase. "If I was paying so much money for water that had been bathed by Person X," said Page, "then I would like the bath water to be bathed by Person X ".