CLEVELAND - The Ohio Department of Health has asked hospitals to stop using sexual assault evidence kits from a longtime provider because they could be contaminated with DNA from someone involved in assembling them.
Hospitals have complained before about occasional problems with the kits, which have for years been assembled by a central Ohio company that employs developmentally disabled people.
Those problems included missing evidence slides, improper biohazard stickers and the use of envelopes that were not self-sealing.
Pickaway Diversified Industries, the company south of Columbus that assembles the kits, had been supplying the state's hospitals since the early 1990s when officials decided standardized kits should be used to collect sexual assault evidence.
At that time, the DNA tests were less advanced and weren't likely to pick up small traces of "touch" DNA.
State crime lab investigators discovered the contamination of the kits recently when trying to track down a common and unidentified DNA profile that showed up inside of five unrelated kits.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office says the lab is checking to confirm whether the DNA belongs to those who assembled the kits, but officials believe the contamination was limited.
There's been no suggestion that any rape investigation or conviction has been called into question because of the contamination, a spokeswoman for the attorney general told The Associated Press.
Company director Tammy Alvoid said the state never gave a specific reason for canceling the contract. She said the company is working with the attorney general's office to sort out whose DNA may be in the contaminated kits.