OSU-invented wristband reveals pollution risks

OSU wristband
OSU researchers use silicone bracelets to track exposure to 1,200 environmental toxins. (Photo: Stephen Ward)

Silicone bracelet can detect 1,200 chemicals in air, water and food

People are exposed to a range of pollutants every day but do not often know which ones—or to what degree. Measuring a person's contact with toxins can also be difficult, requiring expensive and bulky devices that people are reluctant to wear for long periods of time.

OSU has discovered a more accessible method that uses silicone bracelets to record a person's exposure to chemicals. The wristbands have a porous surface that mimics a cell that absorbs contaminants people are exposed to through their environment or workplace. In an OSU experiment, the bracelets soaked up nearly 50 chemical compounds, including traces of fragrances, flame-retardants, pesticides, caffeine, nicotine and chemicals from flea medicines for pets. Roofers also wore the wristbands, showing exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 12 of which are on the Environmental Protection Agency's priority list. In total, OSU can screen for 1,200 chemicals that may accumulate in the wristbands. 

Source: Kim Anderson, a professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences

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