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March 12, 2014 AT 12:00 am

These Bracelets Can Detect Chemical Exposures #WearableWednesday

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Remember those rubber wristbands that were everywhere a couple years ago? Well they might be making a comeback and this time they’ll serve as more than a statement on which charity you support. Scientific American has the story.

Researchers at Oregon State University outfitted volunteers with slightly modified silicone bracelets and then tested them for 1,200 substances. They detected several dozen compounds – everything from caffeine and cigarette smoke to flame retardants and pesticides.

“We were surprised at the breadth of chemicals,” said Kim Anderson, a professor and chemist who was senior author of the study published in Environmental Science & Technology….

Silicone is porous and acts similar to human cells, so once chemicals are absorbed by the wristband, “they don’t want to go back to the water or the air,” Anderson said.

“This study offers some real possibilities to address the weak link in epidemiological studies – which is the exposure science,” said Ted Schettler, science director at the Science and Environmental Health Network, a nonprofit environmental health advocacy organization.

The bracelets “can identify both chemicals and mixtures, and this could easily be applied to larger groups to see which compounds are showing up most commonly,” he said.

Thirty volunteers wore the orange and white Oregon State wristbands for 30 days. Forty-nine compounds were found in them, including flame retardants, indoor pesticides such as pet flea medications, caffeine, nicotine and various chemicals used in cosmetics and fragrances.

Read more.


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