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Wristband detects wearer's chemical exposure

The chemicals an individual is exposed to in their daily environment can now be easily measured via a simple silicone wristband.

Oregon State University designed a wristband that detects chemical pollution in the wearer's environment. It is now being used in a New York City-based study that is focusing on pregnant women in their final trimester and the effect of the chemicals on the infants after birth. Researchers hope they can learn about factors causing birth defects and disease by identifying the individual chemicals that come in contact with people.

OSU has also distributed the wristbands in West Africa to study pesticide risks and exposure to agricultural chemicals.

In a study supported by the the National Institute of Environmental Science and the associated Analytical Chemistry Facility Core, OSU scientists modified "silicone material in commercial wristbands ... for use as a personal passive sampler in much of the same way silicone is used and demonstrated in environmental studies,” according to the study.

The study tested for 1,182 compounds, finding the wearers were exposed to 49 of them, including pesticides, phthalates, plasticizers, industrial compounds, consumer products and personal care chemicals. Twenty-two participants wore 30 wristbands that absorbed the compounds over a period of 30 days. Then the wristbands were tested and chemicals extracted three times.

Researchers recruited some roofers to observe the effect of hot asphalt. Scientists also tested how sunlight and shade affected the results. For comparison, some wristband volunteers wore traditional air sampling backpacks, weighing five pounds complete with a battery and fan.

Though the wristbands are currently unlicensed and unavailable to the public, volunteers may register for upcoming studies for a fee.

The study can be found here: pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es405022f.

Julia Rogers can be reached at 503-546-5137 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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